A NEW report from the United Nations child relief agency Unicef said last year saw the highest recorded levels of grave violations against Syria's children since the outbreak of war in 2011.
At least 652 children were killed in 2016, but since Unicef only records verified deaths, the true figure is likely to be much higher, the agency said on Monday. In addition, at least 850 children were recruited by armed factions to fight.
The number of recorded deaths in 2016 is 20% higher than 2015, and nearly three times as many children were forced to take part in the conflict in 2016 as in the previous year, marking a dramatic increase in the dangers faced by what has been dubbed Syria's "lost generation”.
Children as young as seven have been forced to fight on the frontline or as suicide bombers and executioners by several rebel groups with links to al-Qaeda, as well as IS.
The report said both sides showed a "callous disregard” for children's lives. The situation for those not caught up in the front lines is still dire: in Syria at least 1.7 million children are out of school and a third of schools are unusable.
There are at least 2.3 million Syrian children refugees elsewhere in the Middle East and about two thirds of them are forced to work at least part time to support their families.- INM
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