The United Nations children’s agency (UNICEF) said more than 1,100 Syrian children were killed in 2018, making it the deadliest year since 2011, when foreign-sponsored militancy began in the Arab country.
In a statement on Monday, UNICEF said it had been able to verify 1,106 child deaths from the conflict last year, warning that the true figure was likely to be even higher.
“Today, there exists an alarming misconception that the conflict in Syria is drawing quickly to a close; it is not,” executive director Henrietta Fore said. “Children in parts of the country remain in as much danger as at any other time during the eight-year conflict.”
The UN body said unexploded ordnance caused the highest levels of casualties, with 434 deaths and injuries last year.
Fore further expressed concern about the intensification of violence in the northwestern province of Idlib, where 59 children have been reported killed in recent weeks.
Idlib is the last terrorist stronghold in Syria. A myriad of militant outfits, including Turkey-backed armed groups and Takfiri al-Qaeda-linked terrorists, remain holed up in the province.
“UNICEF again reminds parties to the conflict and the global community that it is the country’s children who have suffered most and have the most to lose. Each day the conflict continues is another day stolen from their childhood,” said Fore.
According to the UN, about 60 children have died trying to get to al-Hol camp in Syria’s northeastern province of Hasakah, which is now home to more than 65,000 people fleeing Daesh terrorists.
Caroline Anning, spokeswoman for the charity Save the Children said, “Syria is still one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a child, with ongoing violence, insecurity and displacement.”
“Even where conflict has subsided, the risk from explosive remnants of war like landmines and cluster munitions is growing,” she said.
An armed conflict began in Syria in 2011. But the Syrian military, backed by Iran and Russia, has wrested back control of almost all the areas that had been seized by militant and terrorist groups.
The Takfiri Daesh terror group lost its territorial rule in Syria in late 2017. Only pockets of Daesh terrorists remain in the village of Baghouz in the northeastern province of Dayr al-Zawr near the Iraqi border.
Syria and Russia have been working to secure the exit of civilians and refugees from Baghouz. They say the US forces present in the region are hindering their efforts to evacuate the refugees.
Meanwhile, the US-led coalition purportedly fighting Daesh frequently carries out air raids in eastern Syria, causing many civilian deaths.
Other militant groups, having faced defeat on the battle ground against the government, have been bused into Idlib Province under deals with Damascus.
Three guarantor countries for Syrian peace, namely Iran, Russia, and Turkey, are negotiating on behalf of the Syrian government and the opposition to decide the fate of the armed groups holed up in Idlib.
Last September, Russia and Turkey reached an agreement to create a demilitarized zone to reduce violence there amid their political efforts to find a way out of the Syria crisis.
In the wake of the deal, the Syrian army suspended a military operation to liberate the area in order to prevent bloodshed and protect civilian lives.