2016 worst year yet for Syrian children

Children suffered a “drastic escalation” in violence from the Syrian civil war in 2016, the United Nations said Sunday in a report that showed child deaths jumped at least 20 percent from the year before and recruitment of child combatants more than doubled.

“The depth of suffering is unprecedented,” Geert Cappelaere, the UNICEF regional director for the Middle East and North Africa, said in a statement releasing the report. “Each and every child is scarred for life with horrific consequences on their health, well-being and future.”

More than a third of the children killed, were killed in or near a school, a reflection of how all sides in the conflict have disregarded schools as a safe haven in the war. A Unicef report in December said the United Nations had documented attacks on 84 schools in 2016.

“Children are [also] being used and recruited to fight directly on the front lines and are increasingly taking part in combat roles, including in extreme cases as executioners, suicide bombers and prison guards,” the report said.

Other statistics in the UNICEF report showed 280,000 children live in hard-to-reach areas almost completely cut off from humanitarian aid. Nearly six million children now depend on such aid to survive, a 12-fold increase from 2012. Millions have been displaced, some as many as seven times.

More than two million Syrian children are living as refugees in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and Iraq, representing roughly half the number of Syrians who have fled their country since the conflict began in March 2011 as an uprising against President Bashar al-Assad.

[The New York Times]

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