Syrian children face psychological ruin and are in constant unending danger. 2017 saw child death toll rise by 50% and the amount of child soldiers has tripled in the last three years.
A report by UNICEF described 2017 as the worst year of the war for young Syrians, with 910 killed in the conflict that has spared them no mercy and has taken a vastly disproportionate toll on the country’s most vulnerable people. More than 13 million people inside Syria need humanitarian assistance, more than half of whom are children, the UN says. Of the 6.1 million internally displaced, roughly half (2.8 million) are children. Figures for 2017 show an average of 6,550 people displaced each day in Syria
During the first months of 2018, there has been a sharp escalation in violence in Idlib, eastern Ghouta on the outskirts of Damascus and on the Turkish border. The Syrian regime and Russia have been besieging Idlib and eastern Ghouta, while Turkey and a proxy Arab force launched an offensive against the Kurdish enclave of Afrin in January.
There also remains a lethal threat from mines and unexploded bombs left over from fighting in Raqqa and Deir ez-Zor. In eastern Ghouta a besieged population of almost 420,000 people, half of whom are children, are enduring a month of airstrikes from Russian and Syrian jets, which are attempting to oust opposition fighters and the communities that support them from Damascus’s doorstep. Estimated death tolls in Ghouta range from 1,000 to 1,300 people. Children casualties are estimated to account for at least several hundred instances.
Reaching children in need has been endlessly difficult, the UN reported, with requests to deliver aid to opposition communities routinely denied and convoys allowed to enter often stripped of essential medicines. Humanitarian access was denied 105 times in 2017 – a year marked by sieges of east Aleppo and eastern Ghouta, which had both been strongholds of the anti-Assad opposition throughout the war.
Healthcare facilities, including hospitals and ambulance bases are constantly targeted across Syria. In 2017 UNICEF reported 175 attacks on health and education centres, and Médecins Sans Frontières reported 15/20 hospitals and clinics they support had been shelled by airstrikes.
On almost every economic indicator, children in Syria will experienced even worse conditions in 2018 than they did in 2017.
With food scarcity still rising across the country, up to 12% of children are already suffering acute malnutrition and starvation.
The psychological effect on young generations who have spent at least half their lives in conflict, deprived of adequate food, education and healthcare, is among the most difficult risk categories to gauge.
Already 2018 has proven to be a difficult and challenging year for the children and families of Syria, with little support or outcry from the rest of the world. How many more children must die, starve or be recruited into child-soldiers before the rest of the world stand up and say’s “We will be SILENT NO LONGER!!!!”