Syrian Children Pay the Steep Price of War

During the last 10 years, around 10 million children are estimated to have been killed as a result of war.

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During the last 10 years, around 10 million children are estimated to have been killed as a result of war. The Children’s Rights Portal categorizes child war victims as civilian victims, soldiers, displaced, orphans, wounded or handicapped, imprisoned and exploited children (sexual exploitation or even forced labor). Despite the fact that the right of children of survival and protection are guaranteed according to the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action (VDPA), and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which was signed on 20 November 1989, children continue to suffer around the world.

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, Article 19: “State Parties must “take all appropriate legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to protect the child from all forms of physical or mental violence”

Since March 2011, when the Syrian revolution erupted against Bashar Al Assad’s regime, the children of Syria were among the first victims of violence, torture, and killings. According to HRW report: “We’ve Never Seen Such Horror” on June 2011:

“The protests first broke out in Daraa in response to the detention and torture of 15 children accused of painting graffiti slogans calling for the government’s downfall. In response and since then, security forces have repeatedly and systematically opened fire on overwhelmingly peaceful demonstrators. The security forces have killed at least 418 people in the Daraa governorate alone, and more than 887 across Syria, according to local activists who have been maintaining a list of those killed. Exact numbers are impossible to verify.”

Ever since, an estimated 4,355 Syrian children been killed (up to 15/1/2013) according to the latest report released by Martyrs of the Syrian Revolution Database. Besides thousands more are wounded, detained, or left without a family, or medical aid and humanitarian assistance. Human Rights Watch, for instance, shares evidence, which shows that cluster bombs was used to killed children at the hands of the regime’s air forces.

"Angels… are angels that have left us … a very high price that the Syrians are paying for this absurd war…" Source: NINO Fezza cinereporter on Facebook

“Angels… are angels that have left us … a very high price that the Syrians are paying for this absurd war…” Source: NINO Fezza cinereporter on Facebook

On January 18, UNICEF’s Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa Maria Calivis stated:

“A series of reports from Syria this week underlines the terrible price children are paying as long as conflict in the country rages.”

Meanwhile, Syrian children are the forgotten victims of the 22-month conflict. The number of children’s lives lost continues to accumulate every day; and Syrian activists have no choice but to post the bad news on social media.

Here’s a round up of reactions from Syrian netizens on Twitter:

15 Jan 2013: @rallaf: The Assad regime killed at least 21 children and 130 adults in #Syria yesterday, mostly in air strikes on homes and bakeries.

13 Jan 2013: @RevolutionSyria: Slaughtering over 52,000 defenseless civilians incl. 4,000 children isn’t a civil war but gigantic crimes against humanity. #Syria

12 Dec 2012: @RanaKabbani54 27 children + 13 mothers murdered by genocidal #Assad today, among 120 killed so far as a Christmas gift to our people. #Syria #AssadCrimes

12 Dec 2012: @farGar: NOT including today, more than 103 Syrians kids have been killed since Christmas eve #Childvictims

"Angels live in Syria's graves" Source: @NMSyria on Twitter

“Angels live in Syria’s graves” Source: @NMSyria on Twitter

Dozens of Children Murdered in Syria

On May 25, 2011, after almost a month in custody, the world heard the horrifying story of torturing and killing of Hamza Ali AlKhateeb, a 13-year-old Syrian boy who died allegedly while in the custody of the Syrian government in Daraa.

“His death showed numerous injuries, including broken bones, gunshot wounds, burn marks, and mutilated genitals”

One year after Hamza’s martyrdom story, Al-Houla Massacre took place. On May 25, 2012, activists blamed forces loyal to Bashar al-Assad of murdering 108 Syrians, including 25 men, 34 women and 49 children under the age of 10 (per U.N. observers) by in the town of Al-Houla in Homs. The next footage [Warning: Graphic, Children Death] depicts the aftermath of a massacre showing children bodies, and human parts covered with blood.

Syrian children are paying the price of war between adults in Syria. Syrian refugee children are overwhelmed, as they have never imagined being caught in such a situation. The Syrian Organization for the Defense of Human Rights wrote on its Facebook page on December 28, 2012:

Almost 4,000 Syrian children have been killed so far in Assad’s war on Syria, tens of thousands more are maimed and wounded, all are traumatized and terrorized.. Question for World leaders How many murdered children will it take to make a ‘red line’? by a regime that sees them as legitimate targets.

Many initiatives are available to help the children of Syria. For instance, people can donate to Save the Children to provide warm clothes, shoes, and blankets for children. Winter aid packages specially-made for infants are available.

Hopefully, we could make a difference as Leila hoped on Twitter:

@leila_na: Looking forward to the day when I’ll open my computer and will not find pictures of beautiful children slaughtered. #ThisIsSyria

This article by Rami Alhames was originally posted on Global Voices and is part of their coverage Syria Protests 2011/13