Save the Children reports that at least 33 children have been killed in the northwestern province of Idlib in Syria since June 24. That's more than the 31 killed during the entire year of 2018. The charity calls for an end to the violence against civilians.
The number of children killed in the past four weeks in the Syrian opposition-held area of Idlib has surpassed the total killed in 2018 after the latest escalation of fighting claimed the lives of eight children on Monday.
Save the Children and its partner organization Hurras Network made the announcement in a statement released on Wednesday.
''The escalation in violence, which started at the end of April, has now resulted in the deaths of at least 400 people, including 90 children, and displaced 440,000 people. Save the Children and Hurras Network can confirm that at least 33 children have been killed since June 24, compared to 31 children killed during all of 2018,'' the statement said.
Last week deadliest
''This week has been the deadliest since fighting escalated in northwest Syria — which is home to 3 million people. Multiple airstrikes and shelling have left more than 66 people dead and hundreds injured. Bodies, some torn into pieces or burnt beyond recognition, are still being recovered from the rubble.'' Many of the victims are women and children, some of them suffering the most horrific injuries, according to the UN and field reports.
''The current situation in Idlib is a nightmare. The injuries we are seeing are horrific. It’s clear that once again children have been killed and injured in indiscriminate attacks,” said Sonia Khush, Save the Children Syria response director. ''The bombardment is relentless. It seems as though the different sides have stopped fighting each other and are fighting us, civilians, now. It’s just senseless brutality. I saw dozens of people killed in the marketplace, torn to pieces, including many young children who were playing on the street. They should have been safe,'' Ahmad (whose name was changed for security reasons), an eyewitness, told Save the Children.
Schools and healthcare and water facilities hit
''In the last two weeks, at least four medical facilities have been impacted by the violence, as well as a water station serving more than 80,000 people, and several schools, settlements for displaced civilians, markets and bakeries, according to the UN. At least eight water facilities that provided drinking water for around 250,000 people in southern Idlib have been attacked in the last two months alone, as summer temperatures soar and civilians are at increased threat of diseases,'' the NGO said.
''In the Northwest, at least 44 schools have been damaged or destroyed recently, as attacks on educational facilities and personnel have increased,'' the statement said. ''The children of northwest Syria have been caught in violent conflict for 80 days with no lull. They have been denied education, food, and health care, and forced to sleep under the trees in open fields for months now,'' Khush added.
Save the Children is calling on all parties to the conflict to respect international humanitarian law and human rights law, and to place the protection of civilians first. Schools, hospitals, and other vital civilian infrastructure must be protected from attacks.