By Vatican News staff writer
The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has called on all of the parties involved in the conflict in Syria to respect their “obligations to protect children at all times and refrain from violence in civilian areas.”
In a statement on Sunday, Bo Viktor Nylund, UNICEF Representative in Syria, decried the loss of human lives in the country.
One 12-year-old girl was reportedly killed in an attack in Azaz, northern rural Aleppo on Sunday. Among the scores of people injured were two other boys – one of them less than a year old, UNICEF said.
Another three children were killed in an explosion in the town of Afrin, also in northern rural Aleppo on Saturday, said the statement.
Ten years into the conflict, UNICEF notes, “children continue to be the hardest hit by unprecedented destruction, displacement and death. They have lost their lives, homes and childhoods. It is high time that the violence in Syria comes to an end.”
With these recent attacks, approximately 22 children have been killed since the start of this year, a “stark reminder that violence continues in Syria and children continue to be in danger day in, day out.”
Education and basic services disrupted
A separate statement issued by UNICEF on 24 January highlighted the negative effects of the long-running violence on education in Syria, pointing out that more than half of children in the country are deprived of education.
“Inside Syria, there are 2.4 million children out of school, nearly 40 percent are girls,” the statement read.
At the same time, “there have been nearly 700 attacks on education facilities and personnel since the verification of grave violations against children began.” Presently, “one in three schools in Syria can no longer be used because they were destroyed, damaged, or are being used for military purposes.”
Meanwhile, in some other areas, basic services and civilian infrastructure continue to come under attack even as the country battles with other difficulties exacerbated by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.