The United Nations children’s agency (UNICEF) says 2016 inflicted record death and misery on Syrian children, making it the worst year ever for the rising generation.
At least 652 children were killed in Syria last year in attacks on schools, hospitals, playgrounds, parks, and houses, UNICEF said in a report on Monday. The conflict also forced external displacement of 2.3 million children.
At least 255 of the fatalities occurred in or around schools last year. UNICEF said one in every three schools is unsuitable for children, some due to militant occupation, and 1.7 million youngsters are out of school.
The report warns that coping mechanisms and medical care are eroding quickly in Syria, driving children into child labor, early marriage and combat.
According to UNICEF, at least 851 children were recruited by militants last year, more than twice compared to the year before.
Last Tuesday, international aid group Save the Children said millions of Syrian children were living in a state of "toxic stress" and suffered from staggering levels of trauma due to prolonged exposure to the horrors of war.
It said many Syrian children were "living in an almost constant state of fear" even after escaping from the front lines of the conflict.
In 2011, foreign states seeking to overthrow the Syrian government started to pour arms and militants into the Arab country towards the goal.
The militancy soon spun out of control, sweeping the entire country and assuming devastatingly brutal proportions. Thousands have died and millions been displaced as a result so far.