Three children were killed on Monday in a new wave of shelling across Idlib, in North West Syria, that hit schools, infrastructure and displacement camps over the past few days, driving thousands of people out of their homes. Two Save the Children supported schools were heavily damaged.
The three boys from the same family were killed in their tent in Khan Sheikhoun where they had sought shelter after their school was hit by shells. A second school located in the same area was also damaged.
In both schools, no casualties were reported, but the two establishments remain closed. A third school in Saraqib had to suspend classes for the day when shells fell nearby. The three schools catered to more than 500 boys and girls, and received education support from three Save the Children partners.
Several areas in Idlib, home to more than three million people, have been bombarded in the past few days, driving at least 25,000 people out of their homes, according to the United Nations.
“Schools should be a safe place and what we are seeing and hearing is horrific. It is critical that civilians, and especially children, are protected as innocent bystanders of a conflict they had no hand in making,” said Sonia Khush, Save the Children Syria Director.
“A mother living in Khan Sheikhoun told us last week that her children are too afraid to go to school now. Families have been leaving their homes to look for shelter in camps during the night, and return to their homes during the day to check on their property and seek aid.
“The high frequency of movement is putting families at risk and exhausting them physically, emotionally and limiting their ability to seek aid and education for their children.”
Rania, a 12-year old girl, told Save the Children last week: “I went to school for one month only, then we had to leave because of the war, and I couldn’t make friends because it was such a short period. I have one friend; my cousin, we play together all the time around our tent, we don’t have many things to do in the camp, I don’t like it here, I wish our life could get better, I wish we could live in safety and be able to go to school.”
Save the Children is calling on all sides to respect International Humanitarian Law and protect schools, hospitals and other vital civilian infrastructure. Children are particularly vulnerable to the impact of explosive weapons, and warring parties should make a particular effort to protect them.
Across Syria, 2.1 million children are out of school and 1.3 million are at risk of dropping out. One in three schools is either damaged or destroyed and attacks on educational facilities and personnel have increased, with damage or destruction estimated to have affected 40 percent of school infrastructure.
In its centenary year, Save the Children will launch a global campaign calling on all responsible governments, including Australia, to do more to stop the war on children. Visit www.stopthewaronchildren.org.au to find out more.
For media inquiries contact Evan Schuurman on 0406 117 937.