UNICEF calls to protect Syrian children from carnage in Idlib

UNICEF calls to protect Syrian children from carnage in Idlib
The United Nations Children's Fund is appealing to the warring parties in Syria to protect hundreds of thousands of children at risk of death and displacement from the carnage in and around the northwest province of Idlib.

New Year's Day is traditionally a day of hope, a day when people look forward to a brighter year ahead. On this New Year's Day, UNICEF reports five children, aged between 6 and 13, were killed when their primary school in Idlib province was hit by rocket fire.

On Sunday, Assad warplanes bombed a school, a mosque, and kindergarten in the city of Ariha in Idlib province, killing 12 civilians, including three children and a woman and injuring 25 others, including three women and six children.

On New Year's Day, Assad banned cluster rocket killed five children and four adults near Abdo Salama school in Sarmin town in Idlib countryside.

UNICEF spokeswoman Marixie Mercado acknowledges Syria's warring parties are not likely to respond to her agency's appeal for the fighting to stop but she says they should.

"Children in Syria, who have absolutely nothing to do with this conflict are bearing the brunt of this conflict,” she said. “A whole generation of children have known nothing now but war. How can that be a good thing for anybody?"

Some three million civilians who live in Idlib province have nowhere to go. They are trapped. All avenues of escape from the fighting are blocked.

Children's lives have been disrupted in many other ways as well. Over the past year, UNICEF reports 145 schools in Syria have been attacked, depriving tens of thousands of children of an education. The UN has verified 82 attacks on hospitals and medical staff, depriving children and adults alike of essential health care.

Mercado said more than 90% of these attacks were in the northwest, including in Idlib. She told VOA that young people in Syria are being robbed of their childhood and their dreams.

"Some of the testimony that I have heard from mothers is, is, is what—you know it really hits home when they talk about the change that they see in their children, the lack of hope that their children express. And, even the anger at being forced to live through such conditions.  These are no conditions for children," she said.

Mercado said UNICEF is on the ground in Syria doing what it can to keep children alive amid the violence, chaos and biting winter cold. She said UNICEF and partner agencies are providing winter clothes and blankets, clean drinking water, health care, education and psychological support.

While these actions are saving lives, she says they are not enough. Only an end to war and peace, she said, will bring children the safety and prospect of a hopeful future they need and deserve.

The Syrian Network for Human Rights SNHR documented in its report released on (January 1) 43 massacres committed by Assad regime's militias and 22 massacres committed by Russian forces in 2019.

The report documented the deaths of 3,364 civilians in 2019, including 842 children and 486 women at the hands of the perpetrator parties to the conflict in Syria, including 234 in December.

Based on VOA

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