Ambassador Cathy Kelly appeared on TV3’s Pat Kenny Show this week, to talk about the children under attack in Syria.
Syrian children are enduring their eighth year of war. This week an alleged chemical attack in that region’s key town of Douma led to renewed focus on the humanitarian situation.
Cathy Kelly put the facts into stark focus for the TV3 audience:
“For every 100 people in Syria, 70 are living in extreme poverty, 40 have children who cannot go to school, half know a child who doesn’t speak anymore because of the trauma they have experienced. If you are living in East Ghouta, 12 people who have 5s have children who are Acutely Malnourished” – UNICEF Ambassador and author Cathy Kelly
In all, 2.8 million children in Syria have been displaced by war while 2.6 million other children from Syria are living as refugees in neighbouring countries.
In 2017 alone, the seventh year of the war in Syria, 910 children were killed and hundreds more were injured. In the same year, 961 children were recruited in combat.
“For every 100 people in Syria… half know a child who doesn’t speak anymore. In East Ghouta, 12 have children who are Severely Acutely Malnourished”
UNICEF calls on all parties to the conflict to abide by International Law and protect children caught up in a crisis that is not of their making. We implore the International Community to come together to act and stop the suffering of children.
Beyond the casualties of war are the consequences that will not be felt for many years yet. Over 1.75 million children are out-of-school and 1.35 million are at risk of dropping out. One in three schools cannot be used for education because they are either damaged, destroyed, sheltering displaced families or used for military purposes. In 2017 there were 67 verified attacks on schools and education personnel. Some children UNICEF Ireland has met in Syria have been out of school for 7 years, the entire duration of the war in fact.
Children also face huge risks from unexploded ordnances, which will take years to clear. 1.5 millon people in Syria are currently living with disabilities, many of them caused by explosions.
UNICEF also has a huge job of work before it in terms of getting access to children in hard-to-reach areas so that they can be given regular childhood vaccinations against potentially fatal diseases like Measles and Polio. In areas where health workers have not been able to gain access the rates of these diseases have spiralled, this despite the fact that the World had set a target of eradicating polio by the year 2000 – a goal that was very nearly reached before conflict in countries including Afghanistan, Pakistan and Syria broke out and children’s rates of immunity fell.
Watch Cathy’s interview from 15mins in:
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