More than 125 Children Killed or Injured Amid Frequent Violence in North West Syria

October registers the highest casualty toll as children die in recent escalation

FAIRFIELD, Conn. (November 25, 2020) – At least 43 children have been killed and another 84 injured in North West Syria since the start of a ceasefire in March 2020, according to data analysis by Save the Children.[1] October was the worst month by far, accounting for a quarter of the total number of casualties, with 27 children killed or injured.

The numbers come as the security situation deteriorates across Idlib, Aleppo and Hama in North West Syria, with reports of Improvised Explosive Devices (IED), casualties, bombardments and artillery shelling across regions.

A ceasefire between the warring parties was agreed in March[2], but data analyzed by the international humanitarian organization shows that in the northwest of the country frequent violence has continued, devastating the lives of children and their families. Homes, hospitals and schools have all been hit.

Across the North West, September and October saw some 45 incidents of violence against civilians.[3] Earlier this month, four children were killed during intense shelling over several villages in Idlib.

Since the ceasefire began, 273 civilians have been killed and 875 injured in the three northwestern provinces of Idlib, Hama and Aleppo. This is an average of 143 casualties per month.

Sami*, 10, lost his mother and brother during an attack in Maarat Al Numan, south of Idlib. He said: “I will never eat ice cream again. I do not like it anymore. It is because of ice cream that my mother and brother died. I asked them to take me to get ice cream. The plane struck the shop when they were there and they died.”

Majda*, 8, who lost her arm during shelling in Ariha, said: “Give me back my arm and I promise you I won’t give my mother a hard time.”

Father-of-three Fouad* said: “The toughest moment of the shelling comes when your children look you in the eye and come to hide their face in your lap. They think you [as a father] can protect them when you cannot protect your own self.”

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

“Despite the ceasefire in March, the conflict in Syria continues to kill children and their families across the country. These numbers are a grave reminder that children bear the brunt of this war. Even in times without major military escalation, they are being killed and maimed.

“Children in North West Syria live in constant danger. They have to flee their homes because of the conflict, whilst at the same time seeking protection from the deadly coronavirus pandemic. They go to sleep hungry as their families cannot find enough food.”

A recent report by Save the Children shows that over the past months, 700,000 more children are facing hunger in Syria because of the country’s badly-damaged economy, violence and the impact of COVID-19 restrictions. UN data shows the number of confirmed cases of the virus has increased 20-fold between the second week of September and mid-October.[4]  

Children are particularly vulnerable to the impact of explosive weapons. Save the Children calls on all warring parties to better protect young people and their families, alongside vital infrastructure such as schools and hospitals. International humanitarian and human rights laws must be respected. 

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