In a statement issued this week, the UN chief expressed alarm over the scale of the military operation and reported attacks on evacuation routes as civilians try to flee north to safety. The military escalation has yielded dozens of civilian casualties and displaced 80,000 citizens, including 30,000 in the last week alone.
The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said on Tuesday that more than 500 children were injured or killed in the first nine months of this year, and at least 65 have been killed or injured in December alone. “Children are bearing the brunt” of the intensifying violence, said Ted Chaiban, UNICEF Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa.
Since December 11, escalating fighting has displaced more than 130,000 people, including over 60,000 children, from southern Idlib, northern Hama and western Aleppo, with many families sleeping out in the open. And making matters even worse, as temperatures drop – some nights falling to zero and below – fuel shortages have emerged as a key challenge, compounded by heavy rains that increase protection, health and other risks.
Nine years into the war, children in Syria continue to experience unspeakable violence, trauma and distress. And those living in camps are exhausted from multiple displacements and being exposed to the cold, illness and, in extreme cases, death.
Echoing the UN chief’s sentiment, UNICEF called on all parties to the conflict to “cease hostilities and put children first once and for all.”