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The human cost of the Syrian war

  • 26 Jul 2019

The war in Syria, now in its eighth year, has seen children paying the heaviest price. At least 33 have been killed since June this year, compared to 31 children during the entirety of 2018.

( AP )

The image of five-year-old Riham desperately trying to rescue her baby sister from the rubble of her bombed home is a grim reminder of the brutality of Syria’s eight-year war.

Her home in opposition-held Idlib was reportedly hit by a Syrian regime airstrike.

Syrian media outlet SY24 showed Riham pinned to rubble, holding on to her sister by her clothes in an attempt to stop her from falling while their father frantically tried to reach them.

The images shared widely prompted furore online.

As rescuers rushed to save them, the building collapsed.

Riham and her seven-month-old sibling were taken to a hospital where Riham reportedly died of her injuries. The children’s mother was also killed in the attack.

Since late April, more than 2,000 people have been killed in air-strikes in Syria’s last opposition-held province and more than 330,000 people have fled, according to the United Nations.

Children, the worst victims

The chaos of war in Syria continues to devastate the lives of children within the country and beyond.

Violence, displacement, and the everyday struggle for survival have not only scarred them physically but psychologically as well.

Children ride in the back of a truck that is part of a convoy evacuating hundreds out of the last territory held by Daesh, in Baghouz, eastern Syria on Feb. 20, 2019.(AP)

The regime and Russia have stepped up their deadly bombardment of Idlib province and adjacent areas in Aleppo and Hama provinces. 

Bodies have been torn apart, some burnt beyond recognition.

According to the UN and field reports, women and children are the worst affected, some of them suffering the most horrific injuries.

Mark Cutts, UN Deputy Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Syria crisis, described a worsening "nightmare" unfolding in Idlib.

A Syrian boy holds a bird in his hand that he said was injured in a regime airstrike hit the neighborhood of Ansari, in Aleppo, Syria on Feb. 3, 2013.(AP)

Sonia Khush, Save the Children’s Syria Response Director, describes the situation in Idlib as “a nightmare”.

“The injuries we are seeing are horrific. It’s clear that once again children have been killed and injured in indiscriminate attacks,” she says. 

At least 33 children have been killed since June 24, compared to 31 children killed during all of 2018, according to the organisation.

Aid agencies are struggling to reach the battered zones and there's a shortage of food, water, medical aid and essential supplies.

People fill plastic containers with water as cut-offs have been almost continuous in Damascus, Syria on Jan.16, 2017.(AP)

“The children of northwest Syria have been caught in violent conflict for 80 days with no lull. They have been denied education, food, and health care, and forced to sleep under the trees in open fields for months now,” Khush added.

Attacks on educational institutions continue unabated and children have missed years of education. 

Almost 2.1 million children are out of school and 1.3 million are at risk of dropping out across Syria.

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