A decade of the “Syrian Revolution” | Syrian children: deprivation of rights…killing of childhood… awkward present…uncertain future
Since the beginning of the “Syrian Revolution” on March 15, 2011, until the beginning of March 2021, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights have documented the death of 22,238 children under the age of eighteen, and they were as follows:
- 17,111 children were killed by the Syrian regime through military operations by ground forces and aircraft and under torture in its prisons.
- 2,098 children were killed by Russian airstrikes.
- 973 children were killed by International Coalition’s airstrikes.
- 197 children were killed by Turkish forces and fighter jets.
- 84 children were killed by the Turkish Jandarma
- 1,230 children were killed by opposition factions, Syria Democratic Forces (SDF) and jihadi groups.
- 542 children were killed by ISIS
- Three children were killed by Israel.
The highest levels ever of grave violations committed against the Syrian children were documented in 2020, as killing, deformation, and recruitment of children throughout Syria took an alarming ascendant curve in the past year, according to SOHR statistics and figures, despite claims by several powers, like Russia, that the war in Syria has reached to an end.
The war have not affected fighters alone, but also affected children who are the society’s most fragile category in any country. Syrian children are really deprived from their basic rights, including education, healthcare and protection from violence. Accordingly, these innocent became the most affected by the conflicts during the Civil War since 2011. It is worth noting that a considerable number of children have dropped schools in order to help their families who have already been grappling with chronic crises during Syria’s protracted war which has been raging for nearly a decade.
The most affected category by Syria’s war
The ongoing conflict in Syria resulted in worsening the education with one in every three schools in Syria is now out of service after being destroyed or damaged, while several schools are used as military headquarters by regime forces and some factions. Thus, children who are the Syria’s future have become unable to join schools or forced to study in overcrowded classes in unsafe schools with cracked and ramshackle buildings and lack of services and facilities, including drinking water, electricity, heating and sewage.
Such dire situation has not interceded for the education facilities and cadres across Syria to be kept away from the conflicting powers’ attacks. UN has issued a report confirming that nearly 700 education facilities have been attacked throughout Syria since the start of investigations regarding the grave violations against children. 52 of the total number of these attacks were documented in 2020.
International and human rights organizations, including the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, has been all along appealing to bodies and organizations concerning with children to provide material support, secure health and psychological care and finance education process, which help children to get “proper knowledge” and cultivate their skills in the long run.
We, at the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, call for the importance of providing the chance to all Syrian children to get their basic rights, in particular their right to education.
Thousands of children have lost some of their relatives, a father, a mother, brothers or even the whole family, due to the Civil War, which left many of them homeless and became vulnerable to exploitation by war lords.
As international organizations have not paid attention to the Syrian children who have found themselves victims of atrocities by jihadi organizations, regime forces and rebel factions, including Al-Hawla massacre in which most of the fatalities were children, the chemical attack on Khan Shaykhoun, and Al-Ghouta massacre. Also, organizations which swore allegiance to “al-Qaida” have committed heinous crimes against children, including barbaric executions for fabricated accusations, not to mention the unforgettable ISIS massacre in Aqareb Al-Safiyah village in 2017, when pictures showed children and mothers being killed brutally.
Children are isolated from the world
Syria’s protracted war has led Syrian children to be held incommunicado over ten years of conflict with nearly 80% of them are completely away from globalization, as they are not keeping pace with existing scientific and technological developments.
The tragedy of Palestinian children a few years ago, is repeated today in Syria, especially with the ineffective roles and “shameful” stances by many international and humanitarian bodies which have abandoned millions of Syrian children, leaving them exposed to aggressiveness, isolation, marginalization, fear and inability to adapt to changes.
A whole generation plagued with physiological disorders
Scenes of killing and violence acts affect easily on children’s psychological side, and there are already many physiological disorders can affect children during wars. Psychological experts warn against consequences of the indications which may plague children even after the war is over, including fear, behaviour problems, aphasia and nocturnal enuresis. Furthermore, children aged between 14 and 18 years old are exposed to suffer from aggressive behaviour, unjustifiable anger, isolationism and behavioural abnormalities. If such problems are not treated and the children are not kept away from the recent prevalent violence, there will be a whole generation of psychopaths.
With “shameful” inaction, the international community continues abandoning responsibilities towards the victims of the war, while it is still possible to save the innocent children and a whole generation.
Famine and homelessness
UN has announced that 90% of Syrians live below the poverty line, with less than two US dollars a day, at a time when the costs of basic livelihood is increasing with the economy is in freefall affected by the international sanctions and many other factors, including the lack of a workable and lasting solution to end the conflict in Syria.
SOHR has reported that the markets in the capital, Damascus, are in recession, as the Syrian pound keeps plummeting against foreign currency along with the astronomically inflated prices. On the other hand, people in regime-held areas have been struggling with dire living conditions for months due to the acute bread and fuel shortage and food unaffordable prices. Meanwhile, the regime government continues inaction which have ignited popular anger and discontent among the residents who are not able to buy their essentials. These chronic crises have been worsening the living condition and threatening of a looming famine which is expected to mostly affect children.
Children and refugee camps
Despite the large number of refugee camps throughout Syria, they do not have the capacity neither to accommodate all homeless children nor to provide education, food and healthcare to children already existing in them because of the few provided funds and poor potentials. Accordingly, the Syria’s new generation, which has been called as the “Generation of Camps”, is now with no education or identity.
According to SOHR sources, a children’s life in a camp is not better than in a battlefield or in devastated houses whose owners refused to leave them. No one knows what happens in these camps, although the “High Commissioner for Refugees” and donor are monitoring and tracking the situation in these camps.
Several documented reports indicates to the fact that the increasing birth rate in refugee camps. According to UN, the birth rate in refugee camps has increased by eight percentage, and this is the highest increase ever since 1973.
Children of a whole generation were born in refugee camps amid dire situations which made their families shoulder extra burdens. Such situation has spurred Syrian feminists and human rights female activists to launch a campaign dubbed “Stop Childbearing in Refugee Camps”, where they have distributed contraceptive devices in several camps, so that no more children will suffer from this dire health and food situation. However, the women in refugee camps see that this campaign is against their right to have children.
According to a global statistical survey, 60% of mother’s deaths were caused by the catastrophic humanitarian situation during wars and natural disasters.
The children’s awkward present and uncertain future may be the most catastrophic consequences of Syria’s war. However, the international community still has the chance to help alleviate these consequences, if it determines to intervene immediately and not abandons its responsibility and obligations to finding a lasting solution to the tragedy of millions of Syrians.
It is worth noting that Syria’s Civil War had caused the biggest displacement crisis since the Second World War, with more than half of population being displaced inside and outside the country.