One month since the breakdown of the Aleppo ceasefire over five hundred children have been reported to have been killed or seriously injured. Hospitals have documented 136 deaths resulting from the recent bombardment in the east of the besieged city and 397 serious injuries. Many more deaths are believed to have gone unreported. The intensified bombardment of the city has isolated an estimated 100,000 children who are in need of food, clean water and urgent medical care.
Save the Children is using this moment to press the world to protect Aleppo’s children. Vigils will be held in Aleppo, New York, Berlin, Toronto and Geneva to show the outrage felt at the disregard for children’s lives, and to commemorate the hundreds of children killed or seriously injured since the end of the last ceasefire. In Aleppo, where it’s too dangerous to bring together groups of people for fear they will be targeted by bombardment, children and families are gathering individually to commemorate the suffering and call for an end to the bloodshed and an immediate ceasefire. Despite reports of an eight-hour pause in the airstrikes in Aleppo, this will not be enough time to get aid in or evacuate injured children before the fighting resumes.
"What is happening to children in Aleppo and across Syria, is one of the defining political and moral challenges of our age." Said Helle Thorning-Schmidt, CEO of Save the Children. "Continued failure to protect children is jeopardising the whole system of International Humanitarian Law. Without urgent action, this will become one of the darkest episodes in our history."
Throughout the conflict in Syria, hospitals, schools and other civilian structures have come under repeated bombardment and children and other civilians have paid the highest price. People are blocked from leaving, and life-saving aid from entering. Conditions for trapped civilians have become intolerable, and many have been without subsistence for months.
Helle Thorning-Schmidt said: “The world cannot look away while these children are in grave danger. The world has failed children in Syria for too long and there must now be a concerted effort by all sides to get them out of harm’s way as the situation in Aleppo worsens. History will judge us by how we respond.”
Save the Children is calling for an immediate 72 hour ceasefire in Syria as a first step allowing adequate time for the urgent evacuation of the sick and injured and for desperately needed humanitarian aid to reach children and families. The aid agency also calls for an investigation to be launched to establish the facts around indiscriminate attacks on schools, hospitals and other civilian infrastructure in Aleppo.