G7 leaders must prioritize children in Syria as violence mounts in the northwest

Statement by UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore

23 August 2019
Syria. A girl stands near a makeshift camp near the border with Turkey.

NEW YORK, 23 August 2019 – “It is my sincere hope that the protection and wellbeing of children in Syria will be front and center during talks held by world leaders this weekend at the G7 Summit.

“Violence in Syria’s northwest – including Idlib, Aleppo and Hama – continues to escalate.

“Children in the northwest have suffered greatly this year. Since the beginning of 2019, at least 419 children have been killed or injured and some 169 children were recruited into the fighting. In the northwest alone, there were more than 73 attacks on education facilities, 49 attacks on health facilities, in addition to 29 attacks on water stations, affecting the water supply to over 610,000 people. These included facilities supported by UNICEF.

“This is what the UN has been able to verify through primary sources – the actual figures are likely to be higher.

“Children who have been exposed to traumatic experiences may also have the invisible scars of deep psychological distress.

“There are also indications that violence in Idlib could escalate further, a development which would likely result in further child and civilian casualties, as well as massive population displacement.

“UNICEF echoes the Secretary-General’s call for the September 2018 Memorandum of Understanding on Idlib to be upheld. UNICEF also urges the parties to the conflict and those who have influence over them – including G7 leaders – to protect children across Syria.

“With the conflict now in its ninth year, it is critical that all children affected by this war – be they Syrian or children of foreign fighters – are kept safe and that their rights are upheld.”

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