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Water disruptions force children and families to rely on unsafe water Water disruptions force children and families to rely on unsafe water  

UNICEF Chief: Over a dozen children killed in war torn Syria since New Year

The Executive Director of the UN Children’s charity, UNICEF, Henrietta Fore sounds the alarm over the deaths of children in war torn Syria just three weeks into the New Year.

By Vatican News staff reporter

It’s been 10 years since the outbreak of war in Syria and in that time many children have been killed, injured, displaced and deprived of basic necessities.

Needless deaths

Just last week two children aged 1 and 10 years old died in an attack on Hama. Another child was injured.

In a statement, UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore decries this loss of life and the continued challenges facing children and families in the war torn country.

“Barely three weeks into the new year, at least 15 children have now been killed in incidents involving explosive weapons and unexploded ordnance. Another 15 children have been injured,” she says.

In the northeast of Syria, violence has surged in Al-Hol Camp – where more than two-thirds of the population are children. The Executive Director says lives are being put at risk, and she highlights the need “for long-term solutions including the repatriation or relocation of foreign children stranded there.”

Basic services attacked

In other areas, such as Hassakeh, basic services and civilian infrastructure continue to come under attack.

“The water supply from Alouk water station, a primary water source for almost half a million people, was cut off again earlier this week,” says Fore. “Water disruptions force civilians to rely on unsafe water which exposes people, particularly children, to contracting potentially deadly waterborne diseases.”

Severe weather conditions

In the northwest, the country is enduring severe winter weather which has included torrential rain and snow, and has affected at least 22,000 people.

According to the UNICEF chief, “More than 2 million people remain displaced and are living in tents, shelters and destroyed or unfinished buildings. Just this week, a six-year-old boy reportedly died when a wall built around his tent collapsed on top of him amid flooding and snowfall.”

Impact of pandemic

There is still no end in sight 10 years on from this conflict, and at least 4.7 million children are in need of humanitarian assistance. On top of that, the COVID-19 pandemic is making it harder to survive and “provide even basic education and protection for children.” 

The Executive Director’s call is clear: “The violence in Syria must end.” She also calls for better support and better access.  Most importantly, she says, “we need everyone to protect children and keep them out of harm’s way.”

25 January 2021, 15:21