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Children make up ‘35% of casualties in Aleppo’

Friday, 29 July 2016

Aid workers in Aleppo have reported horrific conditions for casualties and health workers, with limb amputations and head trauma the most prevalent injuries after weeks of heavy bombardment in the now besieged eastern part of the city

The field coordinator for Shafak, an NGO which runs a network of ambulances around the city, estimated that children comprise about 35 per cent of all casualties. He also reported that the death rate, particularly among child casualties, is rising because they can no longer evacuate patients with head injuries to Turkey as they would have done previously due to the siege.

According to the Save the Children partner, hospitals are completely overwhelmed and ambulances are running out of fuel so they can now only attend the scenes of major airstrikes. They also report that it’s too dangerous to attempt to leave the city and there is bombing and violence along the supposed safe routes out, although we cannot independently verify these reports at this stage.

Rami*, whose name has been changed to protect his identity, said: “Life in Aleppo city is becoming more like living next to an active volcano… you don’t know when you’ll be killed. It’s the first time in the last four years where we see this kind of bombardment and destruction. Especially when they (children) hear the sound of an explosion or the jetfighter, they start screaming, hugging you and crying.

“Imagine the emergency room in any of the field hospitals doesn’t have more than five or six beds, and when responding to a massacre they receive up to 30-40 injured at the same time. So most of the patients are treated on the floor of the hospital… and of course all this is getting worse because of the intense bombardment with the lack of the staff and equipment.”

He reported previously attending the scene of an airstrike, and finding children buried beneath the rubble. He said: “A child less than ten years old ran to me shouting “sir please put my arm back”. His left arm was amputated and he held it with his right hand. He was begging me to put it back, and this is only one of so many tragedies that we see.”

Sonia Khush, Syria Director for Save the Children, said: “The situation for an estimated 100,000 children trapped under siege and bombardment in Aleppo is desperate and needs our urgent help. The world cannot turn its back while children are bombed and then denied medical treatment – we need an end to the indiscriminate attacks on civilians and immediate and unfettered access for humanitarian aid.

“A permanent ceasefire and an end to the siege must be the first priority. ‘Humanitarian corridors’ are not humanitarian if they are enforced against the population’s will and are used as an excuse to continue a siege against civilians which deprives children of food, water, electricity and medical care.”

To obtain the audio and full transcript of Rami's* interview, or for interviews with Save the Children staff in London and the Middle East, please contact tracy.manners@savethechildren.org +447721261063