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22 March 2019

From Geert Cappelaere, UNICEF Regional Director in the Middle East and North Africa

AMMAN / SYDNEY 21 March 2019 - “As families in the region prepare to celebrate Mother’s Day on Thursday, another mother in Syria this week is grieving the loss of her child.

“UNICEF received reports that a five-year old child was killed while on a school bus on his way home. One teacher was injured.

“According to these reports, the bus came under attack in the al-Zahra area of Aleppo city in northern Syria. 

“The number of those killed and injured is likely to be higher.

“It is mind-boggling that a school bus full of children comes under fire. It is beyond any comprehension that those fighting continue to attack children, teachers, schools and even school buses.

“There is a misperception that the conflict in Syria has ended - it has not. This attack is a sobering reminder that the war on children in Syria is far, far from over.

“According to UNICEF, 2018 was the worst year for children in Syria’s eight-year war. We recorded the highest ever number of children killed and injured. This year is not looking any better for children. To date, UNICEF received reports that nearly 170 children have died in Syria. Some children were killed in the line of fire, some while fleeing heavy fighting and others died of harsh weather conditions.

“Until when?

“How many more?

“What more needs to happen for the war on children in Syria to stop? How many more lives need to be lost for humanity to be restored?

“UNICEF continues to call for those fighting in Syria’s hotspots including the northwest, the northeast and everywhere else to spare children from more suffering, to spare mothers and fathers and families in Syria from more grief.

"Every heart is aching. Every child, every mother, every father from Syria -wherever they are- continue to live in pain, uncertainty, fear and grief.

“It is time for children to regain part of their lost childhood. It is time for the tide to turn for the protection of Syria’s children and their families.”