No Funeral for Children Killed in Idlib as Death Toll Rises

FAIRFIELD, Conn. (June 5, 2019)—Families in Idlib are having to forgo funeral proceedings for children killed in the latest offensive as they try to escape ongoing violence in the area. Save the Children’s partner has now confirmed the circumstances of the deaths of 61 children killed in a wave of continued attacks in civilian areas in the Northwest over the last two months.

Save the Children’s partner Hurras Network has documented the recent child deaths, which were caused by bombings and shelling. Of the 61 children killed:

  • 11 children were killed while at school.
  • 25 children were at home.
  • 10 children were at the marketplace.
  • Two children were in a displacement camp.
  • One child, who was already in hospital, was killed by a bombing that hit the building.
  • 11 children were killed in a range of other locations.
  • One child was reported to have been killed after coming into contact with a hidden unexploded device dropped in an earlier shelling.

The escalation of violence in northwest Syria has displaced more than 300,000 people since the beginning of May, as the fighting heavily impacted civilians and civilian infrastructure, and impacted humanitarian operations. According to the UN, the number of deaths among civilians is between 160 and 300.

Save the Children’s partners in Idlib tell us of families who have not had enough respite from the shelling to hold funerals for their children.

“Families are severely distraught. One father told us he was ‘lucky’ to find two dug up graves to bury his daughters before he had to flee with the rest of the family. They are making heartbreaking compromises. Not only are they suffering the devastating loss of a child, but they do not even have the time for a proper funeral, as they desperately try to escape the violence and protect the rest of their children,” said Sonia Khush, Save the Children’s Syria response director.

As reported by the UN, 35 schools have been damaged in northern Hama and southern Idlib governorates since the start of May. More than 65 percent of schools in Hama have been forced to close along with 18 community support centers for women and children, according to Save the Children’s partners in the area. This has left an estimated 70,000 school-aged children in need of educational support.

In an earlier report on pediatric blast injuries, Save the Children highlighted the ways children are uniquely and disproportionately impacted by blast injuries.

“As this horrifying death toll indicates, children’s bodies are extremely vulnerable to the impact of explosive weapons. We are urging all parties to the conflict to respect international humanitarian law and human rights law, and to place the protection of civilians first. Schools, hospitals and other vital civilian infrastructure must be protected from attack.

“The children of Syria have played no part in this conflict, and yet they continue to suffer. Appropriate mechanisms must be in place to ensure all perpetrators of grave violations against children’s rights in Syria are being held to account,” Khush said.

Save the Children is supporting its partners on the ground by dispensing lifesaving food and essential supplies to families escaping the violence.

Save the Children recently launched the Stop the War on Children Charter to ensure children are protected during conflicts. The charter forms the basis for a safer future for the 420 million children currently living in conflict-affected areas such as Syria, where children face severe and multiple violations of their rights.

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