“In northwestern Syria, 1.8 million children are in desperate need of humanitarian aid”

Tribune. As we enter our tenth year of investigating and reporting serious human rights violations in Syria, we remain deeply moved by the plight of Syrian children. The majority of these children have known only the conflict and its tragedies, and the list of children victims of bombings and airstrikes continues to grow. Children have grown up there under siege, facing death and starvation, and their most basic needs are denied.

Millions of children are wasting away in camps for displaced people with appalling living conditions. Children have been arbitrarily detained, subjected to torture and sexual violence, fueling the lust of traffickers who forcibly marry girls and enlist boys as child soldiers. More than half of the children of Syria are deprived of basic education. Thousands are imprisoned, often held among adults.

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As we write these lines, the children of Deraa al Balad in southern Syria have lived through several months of siege, some killed in the shelling, others forcibly displaced to the north of the country or fled in the direction of from the Jordanian border. In northwestern Syria, 1.8 million children are in desperate need of humanitarian assistance.

Icy contempt for “the best interests of the child”

The parties to the Syrian conflict, guided solely by military and political objectives, simply display icy contempt for “The best interests of the child”, as enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Even more striking, the countries whose minor nationals languish in Syria, and which would be required to assist them in order to put an end to their ordeal, also refuse or balk at protecting the rights of the child.

It is estimated that nearly 40,000 children are detained, along with their mothers if they are not orphans, in Al-Hol and other camps near the Iraqi border in northeastern Syria. Almost half of them are Iraqis, and 7,800 children come from around 60 other countries. Most of these children are under the age of 12.

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They are not charged with any crime, yet detained in terrible conditions, deprived of their rights to education, to play, and to decent medical care. As adolescents, boys run the risk of being separated from their mothers and transferred to detention centers. These already number 500 foreign boys, detained among adults suspected of having fought for the Islamic State, at the risk of thus perpetuating the cycle of indoctrination, radicalization, and inhuman treatment.

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