2016: The worst year yet for Syria's rising generation

20 Mar 2017 | By Ramya Patelkhana

2016 has been the worst year yet for the children in Syria, according to UNICEF.

The UN child relief agency said at least 652 children were killed in the war-torn country.

Schools, playgrounds, hospitals, parks, and homes were also attacked as the Syrian Government and its opponents along with the allies of both the sides showed "callous disregard" for the "laws of war."

In context: Lost children of Syria - Victims of war

IntroductionAbout the long-running Syrian civil war

After Bashar al-Assad took over as the President of Syria in 2000, Syrians complained of high unemployment, state repression, corruption, and absence of political freedom.

Pro-democracy demonstrations erupted in Mar'11 and soon nationwide protests demanding al-Assad's resignation erupted that led to the Syrian civil war.

The internal war also helped the Islamic State to spread into, command, and control parts of the war-torn country.

20 Mar 20172016: The worst year yet for Syria's rising generation

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One in three schools unusable

According to UNICEF, 255 children were killed in or near schools in 2016 while nearly 1.7 million were out of school. Also, one in every three Syrian schools is now unusable as armed groups have either occupied or destroyed them.

SufferingDozens dying from preventable diseases

UNICEF warned medical care and coping mechanisms are eroding quickly in Syria, driving the children into child labor, combat, and early marriage.

Children hospitals are being attacked due to which the staff and patients are forced to evacuate; dozens of children are dying from preventable diseases.

Such circumstances have forced 2.3 million children to leave Syria and become refugees elsewhere in the Middle East.

ViolationsHighest level of grave violations against children

Children across Syria are at the risk of severe injury even while playing due to landmines and cluster munitions.

Despite the ongoing ceasefire, such deadly incidents where children die or are severely injured still continue.

UNICEF said it was the "highest on record" level of "grave violations against children" in the country since the war began in 2011.

Signs of toxic stress

A recent report released by 'Save the Children', the international charity, said Syrian children have been showing signs of toxic stress, which can cause "lifelong health problems, struggles with addiction and mental disorders lasting into adulthood."
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Child SoldiersEndangered childhoods: Children recruited as executioners and suicide bombers

UNICEF noted the use of children as soldiers is on the rise in Syria.

851 children were recruited by the armed factions in 2016, more than twice compared to 2015.

In some extreme cases, children have been recruited as prison guards, executioners, or suicide bombers.

Child fatalities were also 20% higher in 2016 than in 2015; at least 647 were injured last year.