Syrian and Russian attacks kill more than 300 children since end of April
The relentless bombardment of northwest Syria by Assad and his ally Russia has killed 1313 people, including 304 children, since 26 April.
White Helmets volunteers rescued a further 3,289 people, including 757 children, from beneath the rubble of bombed out buildings. But double tap strikes killed 11 rescue workers and wounded 35 as they tried to save others.
More than 460 cluster bombs and 1,280 barrel bombs, both banned under international law, have been dropped on schools, hospitals, displacement camps and residential areas and the countryside villages of Idlib, Hama, Aleppo, and Lattakia. Warplanes have launches 11,500 airstrikes that have forced close to 960,000 people to flee their homes.
Last week alone 42,000 people fled in search of safety but humanitarian conditions are worsening by the day.
Ahmad Arafat, manager of Hurras Child Protection Network in Idlib province said: “With winter approaching, the situation is very bad in the camps. Those who have fled recently are living under trees without shelter or tents to protect them.
“Children live in constant fear and are unable to play outside or go to the park, anywhere with groups of people is a possible target for bombing. Schools are particularly dangerous.”
White Helmets volunteers are forced to flee with everyone else. White Helmet Mohammed Hamash in Idlib countryside said: “Last week was very difficult for us in the town of Bedama — we’d only just returned home after being displaced but then the shelling started. So we had to leave our homes and lands again. In winter, it’s very difficult. If your tent is not prepared to face winter, you and your family will be exposed to cold and rain. It’s hard to bear when you see your colleagues sleeping with his family in a leaking tent and you cannot do anything to help him. During this week, most of our volunteers are torn between finding somewhere safe for their families to shelter and rescuing the injured.”
Haneen AlSayeed, a citizen journalist living displaced from her home said: “The number of displaced people is increasing. You can see people on the road to Idlib because there are new areas being bombed. In the town of al-Mallajeh, for example, people thought they were safe but without warning, the town was targeted and six civilians killed. The regime is targeting new areas where people have previously taken refuge. My brother tried to go home to our town to bring us food we had stored but he couldn’t reach our house because of the intense shelling.”
The head of the White Helmets Raed Al-Saleh condemned the inaction of the international community and called for help to end the bombing: “Whole families were buried under the rubble of their homes this week, hospitals and rescue centres directly targeted and humanitarian workers killed because they’re trying to save lives.
“White Helmet volunteers are risking everything to help others and report every airstrike and barrel bomb dropped in the hope that someone will finally act. But no one stands up to protect the children being killed every day. We refuse to accept we’re now in a world where governments are allowed to bomb civilians and float international law with impunity. The bombing must stop.”