As Syria’s armed conflict escalates, so does the death of innocent lives

At least 96 children are among the 320 people killed in Aleppo since a cease-fire collapsed on September 19, according to UNICEF.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | Updated: October 3, 2016 9:02 am
syria, syria news, syria war, syria crisis, syria children, aleppo, aleppo offensive, aleppo children, aleppo war, syria civil war, syria conflict, syria news, world news, indian express This September 27, 2016 file photo, provided by the Syrian Civil Defense group known as the White Helmets, shows a Civil Defense worker carrying the body of a child after airstrikes hit al-Shaar neighborhood in Aleppo, Syria. (Syrian Civil Defense White Helmets via AP, File)

As Syria’s armed conflict continues for the last five years, the death toll has escalated beyond count. As the horrors unfold, everyday the situation gets worse in Aleppo, the largest city of Syria. The number of people trapped in Aleppo’s rebel-held eastern districts includes nearly 300,000 people – a 100,000 of them children.

Aleppo is a pocket of resistance, some eight miles long and three miles wide that civil defense workers said has been hit by 1,900 bombs in the past week. The campaign has wreaked destruction on hospitals, clinics, residential buildings, water stations and electric generators.

At least 96 children are among the 320 people killed in Aleppo since a cease-fire collapsed on September 19, according to UNICEF. This results as Syrian and Russian warplanes barrage the city’s eastern opposition neighborhoods, trying to crush more than five years of resistance there. According to the World Health Organization, almost a third of the 840 people wounded over the same period are children.

syria, syria news, syria war, syria crisis, syria children, aleppo, aleppo offensive, aleppo children, aleppo war, syria civil war, syria conflict, syria news, world news, indian express FILE — In this Feb. 11, 2016, file photo, children peer from a partially destroyed home in Aleppo, Syria. (Alexander Kots/Komsomolskaya Pravda via AP, File)

“Aleppo is one of the most dangerous places in the world, and in the last week it has become perhaps the most dangerous place in the world for children,” Juliette Touma, regional chief of communications for the UN children’s agency told The Associated Press.

As reported by The Associated Press, parents have been desperately struggling to keep their families safe fearing the threat of an imminent ground offensive. They have little hope for the future, with no regular schooling and little access to nutritious food. Wounded, screaming children, covered in dust and being pulled out of rubble, have become a daily reality in Aleppo.

syria, syria news, syria war, syria crisis, syria children, aleppo, aleppo offensive, aleppo children, aleppo war, syria civil war, syria conflict, syria news, world news, indian express In this Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2016, photo provided by the Syrian Civil Defense group known as the White Helmets, shows survived child Ghazal Akhtarini, carried by Civil Defense workers from under the rubles after airstrikes hit al-Shaar neighborhood in Aleppo, Syria. (Syrian Civil Defense White Helmets via AP)

Wounded children are often left untreated, sometimes to die, in Aleppo’s overwhelmed hospitals. Only 30 doctors remain in opposition-held neighborhoods: One physician for every 10,000 people, compared to a peacetime standard of one for every 1,000, Touma said. “It is very difficult to know how many (children) are traumatized, but one would imagine every single one is impacted by the horrors, especially with the intensification of the violence in the past week,” she said.

syria, syria news, syria war, syria crisis, syria children, aleppo, aleppo offensive, aleppo children, aleppo war, syria civil war, syria conflict, syria news, world news, indian express File Photo: 5-year-old Omran Daqneesh sits in an ambulance after being pulled out or a building hit by an airstirke, in Aleppo, Syria. (Aleppo Media Center via AP, File)

So-called bunker-busting bombs, designed to target underground structures, have been widely used, possibly to crush tunnels or bunkers used as refuge by the thousands of rebel fighters defending the districts. But the powerful bombs also threaten the underground shelters where civilians take refuge and where children go to school. For the past several years, most classes have been held in basements because of the constant fighting and threat of airstrikes.

“The use of bunker-busting bombs means there is literally nowhere we can keep children safe, ” said Nick Finney of Save the Children, which runs 13 schools in eastern Aleppo, eight of them held underground. “We’re now more likely to see children being pulled from the rubble or treated on the floor of a hospital than sitting at a school desk.”

When schools opened across the country this month, they remained closed in eastern Aleppo because of the danger, said Brita Haj, the head of the local council in the rebel-held part of the city. Medics say the death toll among children and other residents may be far higher than reported, since some families bury their dead without taking them to hospitals or morgues, and many victims remain buried in the rubble.

syria, syria news, syria war, syria crisis, syria children, aleppo, aleppo offensive, aleppo children, aleppo war, syria civil war, syria conflict, syria news, world news, indian express In this Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2016, photo provided by the Syrian Civil Defense group known as the White Helmets, shows a Civil Defense worker carrying the survived child Ghazal Akhtarini, from under the rubles after airstrikes hit al-Shaar neighborhood in Aleppo, Syria. (Syrian Civil Defense White Helmets via AP)

Dr Hatem, a pediatrician, said women and children make up a large percentage of the victims because they are the ones who stay at home. As one of two pediatricians in besieged Aleppo, Hatem said he had an enormous load even before the last week’s intensification of fighting, treating 80 to 120 children a day.

Now he’s seeing a spike in wounded children in intensive care, from four or five a month to four or five a day. There is also a rise in aggressive behavior among children and various signs of trauma such as bed-wetting or losing the ability to walk or talk, said Hatem, who gave only his last name out of security fears.

syria, syria news, syria war, syria crisis, syria children, aleppo, aleppo offensive, aleppo children, aleppo war, syria civil war, syria conflict, syria news, world news, indian express FILE — In this Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016, file photo, provided by the Syrian anti-government activist group Aleppo Media Center (AMC), shows a nurse treating a boy suffering from breathing difficulties inside a hospital in Aleppo, Syria. (Aleppo Media Center via AP, File)

A Syrian opposition monitoring group that tracks Syria’s civil war said a year of Russian airstrikes have killed 9,364 people in the war-torn country. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the dead include 3,804 civilians, among them 906 children. The dead also include 2,746 members of the Islamic State group and 2,814 from other rebel and militant groups, including al-Qaida’s affiliate in Syria.

– With inputs from Associated Press

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