UNICEF has said that more than 1,000 children have been killed or wounded in Syria in the first two months of 2018.
This latest statistic was announced by UNICEF’s regional communications chief Juliette Touma in a statement to CNN. Breaking down the figures, Touma explained that 342 children have been killed and 803 have been injured.
The statistic follows continued violence in Eastern Ghouta, near Damascus, where it is estimated that one third of the 400,000 civilians there are children. The area is the last major rebel-held enclave near the capital, and has come under an increasingly violent siege in the past two months.
On Sunday President Bashar Al-Assad vowed to continue the offensive in Eastern Ghouta, ignoring the country-wide ceasefire demanded by the United Nations Security Council. UN reports suggest 600 people have been killed and more than 2,000 injured in air and ground-based strikes since 18 February.
The Russian-imposed pause in air strikes announced by President Vladimir Putin in late February has thus far proved ineffective, with the five-hour humanitarian corridor intended to allow aid in and civilians out declared “a joke” by the US State Department’s spokesperson Heather Nauert.
Activists in Eastern Ghouta are conducting a social media campaign using the hashtag #Iamstillalive, posting photos of children from the suburb with one arm raised. Children told Turkish Anadolu Agency that shooting had continued during the humanitarian pauses and that they were simply grateful to be alive.
The latest escalation in the siege of Eastern Ghouta comes following eight months of prolonged bombardment of the neighbourhood by Assad regime forces in a bid to root out the remaining rebels holding the territory.