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On 20 November 2016, Abdullah, 9, sitting in one of the neighbourhoods in the old city of Aleppo holding his jerry can. “I’m looking for drinking water since early in the morning because we don’t have water at home. The water comes and goes, it goes off for a long time at home,” Abdullah says. In October 2016, the overall humanitarian situation in the country has deteriorated. Violence intensified in Aleppo city, Idleb and Rural Damascus, resulting in child casualties and extensive damage to civilian infrastructure. Grave child rights violations including killing and maiming of children, attacks on schools and hospitals, sexual violence, abduction and recruitment and use of children, particularly in Aleppo, Rural Damascus and Al-Hasakeh Governorates, were documented by the UN.  Ongoing military operations and clashes with armed opposition groups intensified in Aleppo, Rural Damascus, Rural Homs, Hama and Deir-ez-Zor hampering the delivery of humanitarian assistance to the hard to reach (HTR) and besieged areas in these locations. The limited humanitarian access coupled with the restrictions on free movement of civilians, including children, have impacted the access of populations to essential basic commodities such as food, clean water, health care and education. In Eastern Aleppo, access for the delivery of humanitarian supplies has been denied by parties to the conflict. Delivery of vaccines for immunization of children under five (U5) has not been feasible since July 2016 due to the ongoing hostilities, placing children at high risk of communicable diseases. In addition, over 80,000 children in Eastern Aleppo (aged 3-18 years old) are at risk of death or injury and in desperate need of psychosocial support. In Western Aleppo, an estimated 1.2 million people do not have access to clean water due to the damage to the water pumping station supplying the city. Meanwhile, in Eastern Aleppo, the Bab al Nayrab pumping station has been functioning since 9 Octo

On 20 November 2016, Abdullah, 9, sitting in one of the neighbourhoods in the old city of Aleppo holding his jerry can. “I’m looking for drinking water since early in the morning because we don’t have water at home. The water comes and goes, it goes off for a long time at home,” Abdullah says. UNICEF/Syria/2016/Zayat

 

UNICEF calls for lifting sieges and allowing humanitarian access

Download photos of children in underground playground and in East Aleppo.

NEW YORK/AMMAN/DAMASCUS, 27 November 2016 – As violence continues to escalate across Syria, the number of children living under siege has doubled in less than one year. Nearly 500,000 children now live in 16 besieged areas across the country, almost completely cut off from humanitarian aid and basic services.

“For millions of human beings in Syria, life has become an endless nightmare – in particular for the hundreds of thousands of children living under siege. Children are being killed and injured, too afraid to go to school or even play, surviving with little food and hardly any medicine,” said Anthony Lake, UNICEF Executive Director. “This is no way to live – and too many are dying.”

Some communities have received little to no aid in nearly two years. In eastern Aleppo alone, UNICEF estimates that 100,000 children are living under siege.

In the absence of safe spaces, children are turning to basement playgrounds, schools and hospitals to continue playing, learning and, when necessary, seeking medical care.

In one besieged area, a group of volunteers built a playground and a park by linking a series of basements. On average, around 200 children come to this playground every day. In another besieged area, an underground school provides 50 girls with the chance to keep learning.

As the conflict nears six years, UNICEF renews its call on all parties to lift the sieges across Syria, and to allow and facilitate immediate, unconditional and sustained humanitarian access to all areas across the country.

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For further information, please contact:

Najwa Mekki, UNICEF New York, +1917 209 1804, nmekki@unicef.org
Toby Fricker, UNICEF Syria, +963 950 044 274, tfricker@unicef.org
Farah Dakhlallah, UNICEF MENA, +962 7 9760 9270, fdakhlallah@unicef.org

About UNICEF

UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.

For more information about UNICEF and its work visit www.unicef.org

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