Idlib - 9th January 2020
One child per day was killed, on average, during conflict escalations in Idlib in 2019, Save the Children has revealed.
Thirty-six children have died in the current escalation of violence in Idlib — which began in December 2019 — according to Save the Children and its partner organisation Hurras Network. This includes nine in the first week of 2020. Almost 300,000 people have been displaced, completely emptying some major towns and cities in the area.*
During previous intensified violence, which began at the end of April 2019, more children were killed in one month than in all of 2018 in Idlib. Between April 30th 2019 and July 25th 2019, 90 children were killed during the military escalation in the area, before a ceasefire was announced in August.
Sonia Khush, Save the Children Syria Response Director, said:
“The number of casualties in Idlib continues to grow. They may just be numbers to many, but to their families, they are dearly loved children whose lives have been cut short by a brutal conflict that spares no one.
“Our partner Hurras Network documents each death thoroughly and these are conservative numbers. But they are still too high. A child killed each day is not acceptable.”
The freezing temperatures and wet, wintry weather are exacerbating the needs of vulnerable children and families. Hundreds of people are sleeping in the streets of Idlib with no place to go after aerial bombardment and ground fighting emptied the town of Maarat Al Numan and the surrounding areas. Many are trying to seek refuge in mosques, empty warehouses and chicken farms.
Twelve displacement camps in North West Syria have flooded over the past few weeks, which - when coupled with a shortage of fuel – make it extremely difficult for displaced families to combat the cold weather.
“Thousands of families have begun the New Year trying desperately to escape violence with no destination in mind, fleeing with just the belongings they could carry. For many it’s not the first time they’ve had to do this.
“Save the Children is calling on all parties to stop this war on children. The Syrian conflict must not be allowed to set a precedent for the violation of fundamental human rights and international laws, designed to protect vulnerable children, to become the new normal,” Khush added.
Save the Children and its partners are currently responding to needs of families in Syria through distributions of hygiene items, food baskets, transportation out of conflict areas and other items that cover basic needs, aiming to improve the living conditions among the newly displaced populations.
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NOTES TO EDITORS
From December 20th 2019 to January 7th 36 children in Idlib were killed according to figures obtained by Save the Children’s partner Hurras Network, including 9 children in the first week of 2020.
**North West Syria hosts one of the largest internally displaced populations inside the country, with half of the population having been uprooted at least once, and some being displaced up to seven times over the course of the conflict. Most now live in overcrowded camps and shelters in rural areas with nowhere left to flee to. Food, water and medicine are in short supply, alongside essential services like schools and healthcare.
***Save the Children supports Syrians in the North West of the country through a network of partner organizations on the ground. Their work includes running primary healthcare clinics and a maternity hospital, vaccination and food security programmes, supporting a network of schools and carrying out child protection work.
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