Why are children killed in Syria

A child is killed in Syria every 10 hours

Around 9,000 girls and boys have lost their lives or have been injured in attacks and bombings in Syria since 2011. Every ten hours a child dies as a result of the war. Millions of families whose livelihoods have been destroyed can no longer provide for their children. UNICEF estimates that 2.8 million girls and boys are out of school - many of them never had a chance at school in their life. An estimated 4.8 million children have been born in Syria and one million outside of their homeland since the war began. They know nothing but war and displacement.

“The situation of the Syrian children is difficult to put into words. Four out of five girls and boys are now dependent on humanitarian aid. We mustn't leave them alone. They need warm clothing, access to health care, education, and food. More than anything else, however, they need protection and security, ”says Bettina Junker, Managing Director of UNICEF Switzerland and Liechtenstein. “Humanitarian aid cannot end the war, but it can alleviate the need for the most vulnerable. This is a command of humanity. "

Loss, fear and need

At the beginning of the tenth year of the war, death, fear and sheer hardship still determine the upbringing of countless Syrian children. One of the worst humanitarian crises since the beginning of the civil war is currently taking place in the north-west of the country. Since the beginning of December, over 900,000 people in the Idlib province have fled bombing and ground fighting, an estimated 60 percent of them are children. Between the fronts, they suffer from violence, homelessness and acute need.

Serious violations of children's rights

In the Syrian civil war, children are still exposed to the most serious violations of their rights. Such incidents have been systematically documented by the United Nations for six years. The following numbers are only verified cases - the number of unreported cases is actually much higher:

  • Since 2014, 5,427 children have lost their lives and 4,000 children have been injured;
  • Over half of the health facilities and every third school are out of order;
  • Around 1,000 schools, hospitals and clinics were attacked;
  • Around 5,000 children were forcibly recruited - some of them are only seven years old.
  • Almost 900 children were killed in 2019 alone - three out of four of these children lost their lives in the wake of the escalation of violence in the north-west of the country.

Even where the guns are silent, the situation of children and their families is difficult. Many families have to sell their household or send their children to work to buy only the essentials. In a recent survey by UNICEF together with the research institute Gallup International / ORB in Syria, over 90 percent of the participants said that the children are the biggest losers of the war and that the emotional wounds weigh as much as the physical. The results of the survey, which was carried out in February, will be published in March.

On the occasion of the anniversary, UNICEF once again calls on all parties to the conflict in Syria:

  • To protect children and the vital infrastructure - such as schools, hospitals or waterworks.
  • to keep the ceasefire in northwest Syria.
  • To enable better access to humanitarian aid in order to reach people effectively and quickly - from within Syria and across national borders.
  • to fulfill their obligation under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and to return foreign children, especially in areas formerly controlled by the so-called “Islamic State”, in a safe, voluntary and dignified manner.
  • UNICEF also appeals again to the UN Security Council to support a negotiated political solution that will end this war once and for all.

UNICEF aid for Syrian children

Together with many partners, UNICEF helps millions of children in Syria, Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon, Turkey and Egypt. Last year UNICEF examined 1.8 million mothers and children for their nutritional status in Syria alone and provided medical care to two million children. 7.4 million people across Syria were given access to clean water and sanitation. 400,000 women and children have sought psychosocial support and counseling and 1.8 million children have been able to go to school.

Note for editors

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Here you will find an English-language factsheet "Syria-9" with figures, facts and graphics.