Children bear the brunt of intensifying violence in northwest Syria

Statement from Ted Chaiban, UNICEF Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa

24 December 2019

AMMAN, 24 December 2019 – “Children are bearing the brunt of intensifying violence in northwest Syria. More than 500 children were injured or killed in the first nine months of 2019, and at least 65 children have been killed or injured in the month of December alone.

“Recent intensified violence in densely populated areas of Ma’arat An-Nu’man, south of Idlib city, has pushed thousands of families to flee north. Since 11 December, more than 130,000 people, including over 60,000 children, have been displaced from southern Idlib, northern Hama and western Aleppo because of escalating fighting.

“These displacements are adding pressure on generous host communities and on overcrowded camps. Many families still have no shelter at all and are sleeping out in the open.

“The upsurge in violence and displacement comes as temperatures plummet around the region, bringing flooding and freezing rain. Children living in camps or other poorly insulated accommodation are exhausted from multiple displacements and particularly exposed to the cold, illness and in extreme cases death.

“Humanitarian access must be sustained to provide life-saving assistance to hundreds of thousands of children everywhere in the northwest and other parts of Syria.

“Nine years into the war, children in Syria continue to experience unspeakable violence, trauma and distress.

“Children must always be protected including in times of conflict. This is an obligation on all parties to the conflict - not a choice. UNICEF calls on all parties to the conflict to cease hostilities and put children first once and for all.”

Media Contacts

Tamara Kummer

UNICEF MENA Regional Office

Tel: +962 797 588 550

Joe English

UNICEF New York

Tel: +1 917 893 0692

Juliette Touma

UNICEF Amman

Tel: +962 79 867 4628

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