Kieran Dwyer, is UNICEF’s spokesperson in Syria. He has been updating us on the dire situation in Aleppo.
DAMASCUS September 28 – “In eastern Aleppo these terrible attacks and bombings are killing and injuring many children. UNICEF can confirm that since last Friday alone, at least 96 children have been killed in attacks, and more than 220 injured – many gravely injured,” says Kieran Dwyer, UNICEF spokesperson in Syria who is in daily contact from the capital Damascus with UNICEF colleagues and partners in Aleppo, including medical staff who are trying their best in unimaginable circumstances to save the lives of children.
After more than five years of war in Syria, this week has seen a huge escalation in attacks and violence in eastern Aleppo, and the consequences for children are shocking:
“There are more than 100,000 children in eastern Aleppo. When attacks hit this densely populated part of the city, children are always likely victims. Children and their families are hiding in basements, but these are now very dangerous as massive explosive weapons are being used. There is nowhere safe for a child in eastern Aleppo.”
Kieran Dwyer has been updating the world’s media on the situation in Aleppo, via Skype.
“Children are lying untreated on the floors of hospitals because there are not enough doctors or medical supplies. A doctor, one of our partners, told us last night that in his clinic they are so overwhelmed by the numbers of injured children being brought in each day that they are being put in the impossible position of having to leave the most seriously injured children to die, untreated. That is not a decision that any health worker should ever have to make. It’s not just because there is a shortage of doctors, but also because they lack medicines and equipment. Hospitals themselves have come under attack in eastern Aleppo.”
UNICEF medic assesses a child after one of convoys managed to get through to the town of Madaya, elsewhere in Syria.
“The situation continues to get worse. Our health partners have confirmed today that two hospitals were struck by attacks overnight. Both are now unable to function, meaning thousands more children cannot get the urgent medical care that they need.”
Children in eastern Aleppo are drinking contaminated water because water supply is down.
“The attacks also damaged the water pumping station that provided safe drinking water to 250,000 people in eastern Aleppo. Without working pumps in the city, people are forced to drink water from contaminated wells. The risk of outbreaks of waterborne diseases is huge and this would incredibly aggravate the already desperation situation for children.”
“Fortunately, last night we had a small breakthrough when a portion of the water system was repaired with support from UNICEF but only a quarter of the inhabitants of eastern Aleppo have regained access so far to clean and safe water. The majority are still in danger. And while attacks continue, there is always a risk that this essential water infrastructure will be destroyed again.”
This week UNICEF was glad to get access to children in the towns of Madaya and Zabadani in Rural Damascus and Foah and Kefraya in Idlib governorate, with convoys of humanitarian supplies.
“UNICEF and our UN and other partners have been ready for weeks with life-saving water, nutrition and medical supplies for the children and families of Aleppo but these convoys have not been allowed into the east city. Children now desperately need life-saving help.”
“A few weeks ago there was a brief ceasefire. Kids could even play outside again. We saw children playing on swings again. They were able to just be children again. Now that is over and they have to fear for their lives every day and night in the knowledge that even if they are injured, there is no guarantee that they will be saved. For the sake of all the children and all the families in Aleppo, it’s critical that these attacks stop. This horrendous violence against children must stop.”
UNICEF promotes the rights and well-being of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere. UNICEF has been operating for 70 years.
To learn about UNICEF and its work for children visit https://www.unicef.ie/