Wed Mar 15, 2017 4:9PM
Children stand in a destroyed street in al-Bab, Syria, February 23, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
Children stand in a destroyed street in al-Bab, Syria, February 23, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
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The United Nations children's fund has expressed concerns about the plight of the Syrian children affected by the country's six-year-long conflict, saying those kids separated from their families are the most vulnerable.

The crisis in Syria has taken a terrible toll on the country's children, Geert Cappelaere, the regional director for the Middle East and North Africa at the UN International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF), told Reuters in the Lebanese capital Beirut on Wednesday.

"So for unaccompanied and separated children the situation is even harsher than for other children, and for children in general it's already a very, very difficult situation,” Cappelaere said.

A child died or was severely injured in Syria every six hours last year, while every single school day a child is killed either sitting in the class or on the way to school, he added.

The official further described the figures as “dramatic,” warning, however, that they were only verified by UNICEF and the real number of child casualties is “much higher, unfortunately."

Geert Cappelaere, UNICEF's regional director the Middle East and North Africa, watches a video clip on Syrian children during a press conference, in Beirut, Lebanon, March 15, 2017. (Photo by Reuters)

Elsewhere in his comments, Cappelaere said that many Syrian children have suffered from indirect consequences of the conflict such as the destruction of the healthcare system.

Referring to the problem of “undocumented” children, he said it was difficult to trace and register them in shelters and schools.

Cappelaere made the remarks after he returned from a three-day visit to the Syrian cities of Damascus, Aleppo and Homs.

On Monday, UNICEF released a report, calling 2016 the deadliest year yet for Syrian children. The agency also noted that it had documented the deaths of 652 children last year, 20 percent more than the figure recorded in 2015. 

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Syria has been hit by foreign-sponsored militancy since 2011. Damascus has repeatedly accused the US and some of its regional allies of arming and funding different militant groups fighting Syrian government forces on the ground.