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The 12th year of the children’s nightmare in Syria begins

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Eleven years after the outbreak of the war, children are still experiencing a tragedy. Syria remains a struggling country, plunged into civil war, where children pay the highest price.

According to the Syrian organization Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR), the Syrian civil war between March 2011 and November 2021 led to 29,735 child deaths. The ruthless offensive, especially the air one, did not distinguish between men, women, and children. It could sow a deadly harvest at any time of the day. Like the one on October 20, 2021. At 8 am, while the children were on their way to school, an artillery attack took place on the Ariha Center in the Idlib region, which killed 12 civilians, including 4 children, and 30 others were seriously injured. Mutilation caused by an attack is often irreversible. It is estimated that as many as 240,000 children have their limbs amputated. Such a loss means marginalization for them and little chance for an independent future.

In the twelfth year of the Syrian civil war, children still have to watch out for kidnappings. According to the SNHR, at least 5,036 children have been kidnapped, arrested, or missing since the beginning of the war. Children are kidnapped in order to blackmail their parents, obtain information for them, obtain ransom, or intimidate civilians by demonstrating that the authorities will not fail to threaten even children.

Children are also kidnapped to join one of the parties to the conflict. 97% of children are at risk of being recruited by both the Syrian army and rebels. Although the estimates are difficult, Save the Children reports that 837 children from different sides of the conflict were recruited to fight in 2020 alone. In addition to kidnapping, desperate children sometimes come on their own, tempted by propaganda and promises of recruiters, such as the possibility of taking revenge for the damage done or receiving the money so much needed to feed the family.

To date, 99% of Syrian children are exposed to all six violations identified by the UN Security Council – killing and mutilation, recruitment by forces and armed groups, sexual violence, attacks on schools or hospitals, kidnapping, and denial of humanitarian access to children. The direct impact of the war on children in Syria cost them their childhood, physical and mental health, and life. Here, peace, international aid, and humanitarian aid are needed to heal the wounds caused by the last 11 years of the conflict as soon as possible.

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