UNICEF: 2 children already killed, 5 injured in Syria in 2022
The United Nations Children’s Fund laments that the more than 11-year-old conflict in Syria continues to take its toll in the new year.
By Robin Gomes
The ordeal of Syrian children continues unabated, with the conflict continuing to cause injuries and death into the new year.
“It was only in the past four days – since the start of the new year – that two children have been killed and five others injured in northwestern Syria as violence escalated,” said lamented Tuesday a senior official of the United Nations children’s fund, UNICEF. recent violence and unrest in Syria.
Belligerents should never attack children or the services on which they depend, said Kambou Fofana, UNICEF’s acting regional director for the Middle East and North Africa.
Strikes on civilian infrastructure
He was referring to an attack on a UNICEF-backed water station in the village of Arshani outside Idlib in northwestern Syria. The attack took the station out of service, cutting off water supplies to more than 241,000 people, many of whom are internally displaced.
Fofana did not say who carried out the raids, but Russian planes bombed areas near Idlib on Sunday January 2, Reuters reported, citing witnesses and rebel sources. It marked a new year for the last opposition-held stronghold. High-flying fighter jets, which the tracking centers said were Russian Sukhoi jets, dropped bombs on several towns and a main water pumping station serving the overcrowded town of Idlib, whose population is over a million.
A city water official said he was out of action following the strikes. A senior UN official who confirmed that the water station was “seriously damaged” in an airstrike said such attacks had worsened the humanitarian situation for millions of displaced Syrians.
UN Deputy Regional Humanitarian Coordinator Mark Cutts said: “The continued destruction of civilian infrastructure will only increase the suffering of civilians. “Attacks against civilians and civilian infrastructure must stop,” he said in a tweet.
Witnesses said strikes in the rebel-held enclave also hit livestock and poultry farms near the Bab al Hawa border post with Turkey.
Syria’s war game continues
The Syrian army and Russia, which target the hiding places of militant groups that control the region, deny any attack on civilians. An agreement negotiated almost two years ago between Russia and Turkey, which supports opposing groups, ended the fighting that had displaced more than a million people in a matter of months.
Meanwhile, the US-led coalition in Syria said it hit several short-range rocket launch sites believed to be intended for attacks on a facility used by US troops in eastern Syria, reported officials announced Tuesday.
A coalition statement did not say who carried out the strikes, but said the sites “posed an imminent threat near Green Village, Syria” and were struck in self-defense. The United States has approximately 2,500 troops in Iraq serving as trainers and advisers to the Iraqi security forces.
the woes of 2021
This week’s developments came just days after UNICEF reported that serious violations against children in protracted and emerging conflicts were on the rise in 2021. Syria was among the countries where thousands of boys and girls “have paid a devastating price as armed conflict, inter-communal violence and insecurity continued,” the children’s agency said on Friday.
Although data for 2021 is not yet available, the UN verified more than 26,400 grave violations against children in 2020, including murder and mutilation, recruitment, sexual violence, kidnappings and attacks on children. schools or hospitals.
“Children and the services for them should never be attacked,” said Fofana. “It has been 11 years of brutal war against the children of Syria. How long can this still last? ” He asked.
Meanwhile, the Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) announced in its monthly report, published on January 1, that 1,271 civilians, including 229 children, 134 women and 104 victims of torture, were killed in Syria in 2021. He noted that the killing of Syrians has been continuous since March 2011, adding that 69 civilians, including 16 children, seven women and seven victims of torture, were killed in Syria in December 2021.
SNHR is an independent UK-based non-governmental group that is considered a primary source of information for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on all analyzes related to the death toll in Syria. Its 33-page report says the crime of murder has become widespread and systematic, mostly at the hands of Syrian regime forces and affiliated militias, adding that the entry of multiple parties into the Syrian conflict has increased the significance and complexity. to document the victims. killed in Syria.
According to the group, Idlib governorate recorded the highest death toll compared to other Syrian governorates in 2021, accounting for 19.35% of the total death toll. It is followed by the governorate of Aleppo with 18%, Deraa with 16.5%, Deir Ez-Zour, then Hasaka.
Reaching out to children
UNICEF and its partners continue to support children in the Syrian crisis, to help them cope with the impact of the conflict and to get back to their childhood.
Their work includes improving access to education and psychosocial support services, providing essential humanitarian assistance in hard-to-reach areas, as well as providing assistance such as emergency kits. hygiene, drinking water, as well as screening and treatment of malnutrition.