Two million children are Syria's 'forgotten victims'

Young people are at risk of malnutrition, disease and trauma, according to Save the Children

As many as two million children have had their lives torn apart by the bloody conflict in Syria as the fighting enters its third year with no end in sight, Save the Children warned today.

These "forgotten victims" are at constant risk of malnutrition, disease, trauma and, in the case of girls, being married off at a young age in a bid to protect them from burgeoning sexual violence, it said in a new report.

Ahead of talks starting in London today between Foreign Secretary William Hague and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov, which are likely to be dominated by the conflict, the charity urged the international community to push for an end to the violence that has torn Syria apart.

It is planning to hold vigils in 21 countries tomorrow to mark the second anniversary of the start of fighting in the country.

Jasmine Whitbread, Save the Children's international chief executive, said: "For millions of Syrian children, the innocence of childhood has been replaced by the cruel realities of trying to survive this vicious war.

"Many are now living rough, struggling to find enough to eat, without the right medicine if they become sick or injured.

"As society has broken down, in the worst cases, hunger, homelessness and terror have replaced school for some of these young people.

"We cannot allow this to continue unchecked; the lives of too many children are at stake."

Childhood Under Fire, launched to mark two years of fighting in the Middle Eastern country that has claimed 70,000 lives, says many children are struggling to find enough to eat.

Thousands are living in barns, parks and caves and are unable to go to school because teachers have fled and schools have been attacked.

Young boys are also being used by armed groups as porters, runners and human shields, bringing them dangerously close to the frontline, it warns.

The report, which includes research carried out amongst refugee children by Bahcesehir University in Turkey, says one in three children reported having been hit, kicked or shot at during the conflict.

Three in every four Syrian children interviewed had lost a loved one because of the fighting. Children are being killed and maimed too, it warned, including by the indiscriminate use of shells, mortars and rockets.

Thousands face malnutrition as food production is crippled and damage to sanitation systems has raised the risk of disease, it says.

Girls are being married off early to ensure that they have someone who can protect them from sex attacks.

And fuel prices have risen by up to 500%, leaving families struggling during the winter.

The prospects for peace currently look dim. Last week Mr Lavrov told the BBC there was "absolutely" no prospect of Moscow urging Syrian president Bashar Assad to stand down.

He said the international community should drop any "preconditions" for negotiations between the government in Damascus and the rebels behind a two-year uprising against Assad's rule.

Mr Hague also announced that Britain would send armoured vehicles and body armour to Syrian opposition forces as it steps up efforts to end a humanitarian crisis of catastrophic proportions.

Save the Children said that $1.5bn pledged in aid needs to be delivered to those suffering in the country and in refugee camps in neighbouring countries, with some areas still not having received any foreign aid.

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
  • Get to the point
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application Developer

£30000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application ...

Day In a Page

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own
Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England