UNITED NATIONS – Nearly five million children have been born since Syria plunged into foreign-sponsored militancy in 2011, while thousands of others were killed or wounded in the conflict, the UN children’s agency says.
The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), citing data from 2014 when official monitoring began, said on Sunday that some 4.8 million children were born in Syria since the war began nine years ago, while 9,000 others were killed or wounded in the conflict.
Another one million children were born as refugees in neighboring countries since the conflict erupted in March 2011, it added.
And as a result of the wider impact of the conflict, “More than 2.8 million children are out of school inside Syria and in neighboring countries,” said UNICEF.
Two in five schools cannot be used because they are destroyed, damaged, sheltering displaced families or being used for military purposes, the agency said.
During the same time, UNICEF said that “close to 5,000 children — some as young as seven — were recruited into the fighting (and) nearly 1,000 education and medical facilities came under attack.”
It warned that the “true impact of this war on children is likely to be more profound.”
Henrietta Fore, UNICEF executive director, also said that the Syrian children continue to face the devastating consequences of the crisis.
“As the conflict enters its 10th year, millions of children are entering their second decade of life surrounded by war, violence, death and displacement,” she said, calling on the warring sides to protect children.
Ted Chaiban, UNICEF regional director for the Middle East and North Africa, also warned a recent fighting in Syria’s northwestern province of Idlib, the last militant bastion in the Arab country, was having “severe consequences on children.”
The Syrian army declared the start of an offensive against foreign-sponsored militants in Idlib on August 5 last year.
It came after those positioned in the de-escalation zone failed to honor a ceasefire brokered by Russia and Turkey and continued to target civilian neighborhoods.
Under the Sochi agreement, all militants in the demilitarized zone that surrounds Idlib, and also parts of the provinces of Aleppo and west-central province of Hama, were supposed to pull out heavy arms by October 17 2018, with the Takfiri groups having to withdraw two days earlier.
Fighting there since December 1 has displaced more than 960,000 people, including over 575,000 children, according to UNICEF.
Earlier this month, Russia and Turkey, which support opposite sides in the Syrian conflict, came to an agreement on a ceasefire regime in Idlib, where a Turkish aggression had risked the breakout of a war.
The new pact came after a series of deadly clashes between Turkish and Syrian government troops.
According to the agreement, joint Russian-Turkish patrols will secure a six-kilometer-wide corridor along the strategic M4 highway connecting the two government-held provinces of Latakia and Aleppo.
The ceasefire also consolidates Syrian control over the M5 highway, which links the capital to the major cities of Hama, Homs, and Aleppo.
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