Syrian Children “Terrified and Trapped” as Fighting Escalates

FAIRFIELD, Conn. (February 8, 2018) — Thousands of Syrian children are being placed in extreme danger by the escalation in fighting in the opposition-held enclave of Idlib, Save the Children is warning.

The past 48 hours has seen bombing and shelling intensify across the region, with numerous reports of fatal attacks on civilian areas. More than 30 schools supported by Save the Children and its partners in the area have had to close temporarily due to security fears.

On Tuesday, a camp where several thousand people have fled to in search of safety was reportedly bombed, according to Save the Children partner organizations in the area. Hundreds of families, many of whom have already been displaced and left living in tents that provide no shelter from bombs or shells, have come under increasing fire and have been left with almost nowhere left to turn.

Samer* is a father of four who was internally displaced six weeks ago and now lives in sprawling Atmeh Camp in the far north of Idlib. His family was caught up in the bombing on Tuesday and he says his children have been left terrified and trapped.

Samer* said:

“At 10 am in the morning, we were sitting in the tents and we heard the first bomb. We went out to find it was 70 meters away from where we are.

“The second bomb was to the west, the first one targeted Al Jazeera camp, the second bomb fell on Al Bayan Camp, 100 meters away from us. The third one fell near a crossing next to us. Four people were killed in Al Jazeera camp; two people were killed in Al Bayan Camp.

“There are two children among the six people who were killed. They were sitting around the heater in the camp, when suddenly a bomb fell on them.

“There is a strange kind of terror among older people and children, everyone is terrified and panicking. For my children, I took them away from the camp, all the children left the camp, because they became terrified. There is fear and crying, it’s a miserable situation.

“We have no heaters, no coal, and now its winter. It’s not summer time when one can tolerate the temperature, it’s very cold, we are in the mountains, and it’s very cold. If we were financially secure, we would buy tents and set them up alone. We wouldn't need a camp or anything - but there is no money, there is nothing.”

Sonia Khush, Save the Children’s Syria Response Director, said:

“The situation in Idlib has been going from bad to worse. We have seen a serious rise in grave attacks that are believed to have taken dozens of lives in recent days. Children and their families are fleeing in the hope of finding safety and help, but now the bombs are following them even into the camps and hospitals. They are fast running out of places to go.

"We need to see an immediate ceasefire in Idlib and across Syria, so that humanitarian supplies can get to all those in need. More than a quarter of a million people have fled their homes in the past six weeks, and every day more people are dying or fleeing.”

*Name changed to protect identity

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