Over half a million children in northwest Syria forced to flee amid continued violence and harsh weather

77 children killed or injured in the fighting since the beginning of the year

18 February 2020
A girl crying in a car
Nour, 11, sits in a van waiting as her family is preparing to leave her village in Atarib due to escalating violence in northwest Syria. “The fighting came to our village. We have to run away so that my little brothers and mother aren’t constantly afraid,” says Noor, barely holding back her own tears. “Shells fell on the street next to ours, and our street too. Some of our neighbours have died.”

GENEVA/AMMAN/NEW YORK, 18 February 2020 – More than 500,000 children have been displaced by intense violence in northwest Syria since 1 December 2019*, with tens of thousands of children and their families now living in tents and in the open air amid very cold weather and rains.

“We walked for three days and now live in tents. All of our belongings were soaked with rain and mud,” says Nadia*, a recently displaced mother originally from Saraqeb in Idlib, now living in the Aleppo area. “I have a very sick child who needs urgent surgery, but I cannot afford it. If my child dies, all I could do is to bury him.”

Since the beginning of the year, 77 children were verified killed or injured* due to the escalation of violence in the area.

“The situation in the northwest is untenable, even by Syria’s grim standards,” said Henrietta Fore, UNICEF Executive Director. “Children and families are caught between the violence, the biting cold, the lack of food and the desperate living conditions. Such abject disregard for the safety and wellbeing of children and families is beyond the pale and must not go on.” 

Just yesterday, UNICEF received reports that the last two operational hospitals in the western part of Aleppo governorate were hit, one of them a maternity and children’s hospital.

Working with partners on the ground, UNICEF continues to deliver lifesaving assistance to families in need including those who have been recently displaced. This assistance includes hygiene kits, safe drinking water, warm clothes for winter, and screening and treatment of malnutrition, as well as education and psychosocial support.

In addition, UNICEF is working with partners to provide vaccines, particularly for children who have previously missed out on their vaccinations. UNICEF is also providing the required equipment to carry out immunization campaigns, including the cold-chain to protect the safety of the vaccines.

“The carnage in northwest Syria continues to exact a horrific toll on children,” Fore said. “It is time for the guns to go silent and for the violence to stop once and for all. Parties to the conflict must protect children and the infrastructure on which they depend, give families respite and allow humanitarian workers to respond to the massive needs, in accordance with international humanitarian law.” 


Notes for editors:

*according to OCHA Situation Report

*name changed

*28 children verified killed and 49 verified injured


Find out more about UNICEF’s work for children affected by the crisis in Syria: https://www.unicef.org/emergencies/syrian-crisis

Media contacts

Juliette Touma
Regional Chief of Communications
UNICEF Middle East and North Africa Regional Office
Tel: 00962798674628
Salam Al-Janabi
Chief of Communications
Tel: 00963950044371

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