Nearly one in four civilian deaths in Syria last year involved a child, a study has revealed, amid warnings that the war is having “a disproportionate lethal impact on civilians, particularly children” and claims war crimes are being committed.
Civilians accounted for 71% of the 143,630 deaths in the first six years of the conflict, a report published in Lancet Global Health noted, while 29% were opposition fighters.
Since 2011, the proportion of child civilian casualties has increased from 8.9% (388) of 4,354 civilian deaths, to 19% (4927) in 2013 and 23.3% (2262) of 11,444 in 2016. Civilian women accounted for 1,582 deaths last year.
More than 17,000 children have been directly killed by weapons – including guns, ground explosives and air bombs – since the civil war began, researchers said. The Syrian Network for Human Rights put that figure at 26,446 as of September 2017.
Nearly one in four civilians killed in Syria is a child, a report has found; Syrian men are seen carrying their children to safety following residential air strikes in Damascus, Syria, on December 3″ alt=”Nearly one in four civilians killed in Syria is a child, a report has found; Syrian men are seen carrying their children to safety following residential air strikes in Damascus, Syria, on December 3″ data-credit=”Anadolu Agency via Getty Images” data-portal-copyright=”Anadolu Agency via Getty Images” data-provider=”getty” data-provider-asset-id=”884906186″ data-has-syndication-rights=”true”>
The study comes as HuffPost UK this week launched a Christmas appeal to help children impacted by the Syrian war, part of which saw two reporters travel there to speak with seven children who delivered heartbreaking messages to the world.
Since the conflict began in March 2011, life expectancy rates have dropped by as much as 20 years and more than half of the population had been displaced, researchers said.
The Lancet report noted it had likely underestimated the death toll as its researchers were only able to get reliable data from areas not controlled by the Syrian government. The figures also don’t account for deaths caused indirectly by war, such as increased disease or medical shortages, or fatalities among those who had been detained or had disappeared.
The report, based on conflict-related deaths recorded by the Violations Documentation Center (VDC), said “increased reliance on aerial bombing by the Syrian government and international partners” was disproportionately affecting those under 18.
The report follows recent calls for UN member states …