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Syria's Child Death Toll Reached A Horrifying Record High In 2018

by Christina Montoya Fiedler

Imagine being 8 years old and knowing nothing but war. That's what it's like for some of the children of Syria, who are at the center of one of the deadliest civil wars in modern history. And while some think that the war is slowly coming to an end, numbers prove otherwise. Syria's child death toll reached a horrifying record high in 2018.

Last year was the deadliest since the start of the war in 2011, with 1,106 children killed as a result, according to a statement released by Henrietta Fore, the executive director of UNICEF. The actual total number of children killed over the course of the war is most likely higher than expected, as UNICEF only started keeping track in 2014. Since then, the organization concluded that over 600 children were killed in 2016 and more than 900 in 2017, per HuffPost. As one can see, the number is continuously increasing.

"Today there exists an alarming misconception that the conflict in Syria is drawing quickly to a close — it is not," Fore said in the statement, adding that many children are still "in as much danger as at any other time during the eight-year conflict."

Child deaths were calculated by the number of killings caused by "direct violence" like airstrikes, bullets, bombs and land mines, according to HuffPost. But there's also indirect causes of death during war to consider, like malnutrition, dehydration, exposure, and disease.

About 368,000 people have been killed since the start of the war, with another 192,000 presumed dead or missing, according to the BBC. And even then, the number may be higher as there's no exact way to account for every one.

While the inner-workings of the Syrian war are complicated, here's the gist. What started as a non-violent uprising against the president of Syria, brought about fighting from both sides, turning a seemingly simple conflict into a civil war, according to the BBC.

According to a report from the United Nations, nearly 5.7 million Syrians have become refugees facing an array of dangers just to escape their war-torn hometowns.

And of the 13 million Syrians who are in need of aid, 6 million of those are children, according to HuffPost.

In December, Trump declared the war in Syria over with ISIS defeated, as USA Today reported, even as death tolls continued to rise and reporters noting that sources said thousands of ISIS fighters still remained in the region.

"We cannot allow ourselves to be fooled by claims of military victory," Geert Cappelaere, UNICEF’s MENA regional director said at a press conference Monday. " ... On behalf of Syrian children: The war urgently needs a peaceful settlement. We cannot continue justifying the daily loss of lives of innocent children."

Trump has since reversed course on the idea of withdrawing all American troops from Syria. In February Trump said he was "100 percent in favor of keeping troops in Syria," according to NBC News.

Last year, the Syrian government reportedly carried out direct attacks on civilians and blocked medical and humanitarian aid, an act that was allegedly aided by Russia and Iran, according to a report from Amnesty International. This brings eyes back to Trump, and make the way he deals with Vladimir Putin and Russia potentially even more concerning.

"We call once again upon all parties, anyone with influence over them ... to make peace happen," Cappelaere, said. "Not tomorrow, now."

While total peace in Syria seems far off, knowledge about the true atrocities being committed against its people is one way of helping. It's easy to turn your head on political new that's difficult to understand, but reading and digesting these facts help everyone get to the root of the issues.