TORONTO, March 12, 2018 /CNW/ - Latest figures show fresh levels of horror in Syria war following a complete failure of so-called de-escalation zones and other international action, with at least 37 civilians being killed every day since mid-2017.
This is a 45 percent increase in casualties across Syria since the creation of 'de-escalation zones' including in Idlib and Eastern Ghouta.
In Eastern Ghouta where hundreds of people have been killed in the past few weeks alone, children have been forced to live in basements and makeshift shelters. Girls and boys continue to be killed by bombing and shelling, and are also dying from untreated wounds, preventable illnesses, malnutrition, and suffering from severe toxic stress.
On the seventh anniversary of the conflict, Save the Children is urging the international community to stop the culture of impunity that has taken hold over fighting in these war-torn areas, push for an immediate end to the violence, and increase monitoring and accountability for violations of international humanitarian law. Save the Children is particularly concerned at grave violations against children in the conflict, which include attacks on schools and hospitals, denial of humanitarian assistance, and killing and maiming of children.
Save the Children Canada President and CEO Bill Chambers, who recently visited Syrian refugee camps in Iraq, said:
"The girls and boys of Syria have suffered for far too long in this brutal war. For the youngest ones, the war is the only reality they have ever known. Despite the recent promises of a ceasefire, children are still being bombed in their homes, schools and hospitals. People in besieged areas are denied humanitarian aid, children are denied education, and their lives are hanging in constant danger."
Four de-escalation zones (DEZ) were announced across Syria in mid-2017, intending to create safe spaces for civilians and suggesting the crisis could be nearing its end. In fact, recent events show that far from providing a haven from shelling zones the situation has exacerbated in some of those zones. New analysis finds that since the zones were announced, there has been:
- Record levels of displacement, with up to 250 children fleeing every hour – with numbers increasing by 60 percent since the DEZ were announced. The last quarter of the year showed the highest rate of displacement inside Syria for the past five years, with more than one million people made homeless in three months. [i]
- Civilian casualties increased by 45 percent – with at least 37 civilians reportedly killed by explosive weapons each day across Syria, the highest rate for several years. [ii]
- Rising attacks on education: More than 60 schools in Eastern Ghouta have been damaged or destroyed by bombing in the first two weeks of 2018. [iii]
- A health facility attacked almost every two days – disrupting vital services to thousands of people in need of medical care, surgery or pregnant women about to give birth. [v]
- Systematic denial of aid: More than two million people – half of them children – in areas classified by the UN as 'hard to reach' or 'besieged' have been prevented from receiving a single aid convoy of vital food and medicine. [vi]
Save the Children spoke with dozens of aid workers, children, parents, doctors, teachers and youth workers in besieged Eastern Ghouta and northwest Syria as part of a new briefing, Voices from Syria's Danger Zones.
Some parents spoke of only being able to feed their children on alternate days as food prices skyrocket. In besieged Eastern Ghouta, which was once considered one of Syria's breadbaskets, the price of bread is as much as 16 times as nearby markets.
In Idlib one boy, Hany*, 11, described to us the moment his school was attacked: "She (the teacher) was standing by the window and she told us that she'd go and get us pens and paper. Before she could do that she was hit in the head and we saw she was dead."
Those are only some of the accounts of many children growing up under unimaginably traumatic circumstances with insufficient access to basics food and medicine.
Chambers added, "Canada and the rest of the international community cannot stand by and let a generation of children suffer like this. They must use their influence to help ensure an immediate ceasefire that is respected by all parties, and to allow aid agencies like us to deliver life-saving assistance. With Canada's track record in protecting children in conflict, Canada has a strong role to play in pushing for justice and an end to impunity so that grave violations against children will no longer be tolerated."
Save the Children welcomes Minister Freeland and Minister Bibeau's statement issued last week calling for an unconditional ceasefire in Eastern Ghouta. To stop the situation from deteriorating any further, Save the Children urgently calls on the Government of Canada to use all available channels to push for:
- All parties to the conflict to fully and immediately comply with all relevant UN Security Council Resolutions calling for a ceasefire and an end to the fighting
- Sustained safe passage for humanitarian agencies to deliver aid to populations in need, and the evacuation of hundreds of Syrian civilians in need of medical assistance
- A strong message from the international community to parties to the conflict that perpetrators of grave violations against children will be brought to justice, and that there will no longer be impunity for attacks on civilians
- Sustained support to host countries to help ease the burden of housing millions of refugees and prevent them sending girls, boys, men and women back before it is safe to return
New multimedia content (B-ROLL, PHOTOS AND CASE STUDIES) out of Eastern Ghouta and northwest Syria available here.
[i] Based on UN figures
[ii] Based on analysis of monthly Explosive Violence Monitor reports produced by Action on Armed Violence https://aoav.org.uk/category/latest_explosive_violence_monitor_updates/
[iii] Information from Save the Children education partners in Eastern Ghouta
[v] Analysis of monthly 'Monitoring Violence Against Healthcare' reports by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Whole of Syria health cluster, https://www.humanitarianresponse.info
[vi] UN OCHA, Syrian Arab Republic, 2017 UN Inter-Agency Operations in Review, January 2018
SOURCE Save The Children Canada
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