Explosive Hazards Pose Fatal Risks to Syrian Children

This week, four children were killed when a landmine left behind from the war exploded inside a house in a town in northwestern Syria.

Explosive objects, including mines, are among the thorny files associated with the Syrian war that has been going on since March 2011.

Despite the calm on the fighting fronts, the victims of these deadly objects are still on the rise, as the United Nations documents five people being killed or injured every day because of them.

The mine exploded in a displaced family who had recently moved to a house under construction in the town of Binnish, northeast of Idlib, according to an AFP correspondent at the scene.

A family member, Abu Daham al-Mohammed, told the media that four of his nephews, three girls and a boy, had died, noting that they had moved in just two weeks ago.

Two children died after arriving at the hospital, according to a doctor at Binnish Hospital, while two others died while being treated at the scene, according to the Civil Defense.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights confirmed the death toll.

A constant threat

Since 2015, the United Nations Mine Action Service has documented 15,000 people killed or injured by explosive ordnance, equivalent to five people being killed or injured per day.

In 2017, at least 910 children were killed and 361 children were maimed in Syria, including by explosive remnants of war and victim-activated improvised explosive devices. In the first two months of 2018 alone, 1,000 children were reportedly killed or injured in intensifying violence.

The danger of dealing with the threat of explosive ordnance does not seem easy in a country that is witnessing a complex conflict that has claimed the lives of about half a million people and during which several parties have adopted a strategy of laying mines in various regions.

Landmines left on agricultural land and between residential areas pose a constant threat to farmers, passers-by and herders.

UN express concern

“Explosive hazards are having devastating health consequences in Syria, especially in Ar-Raqqa, where people are being killed or terribly injured almost every day,” said Elizabeth Hoff, WHO Representative in Syria. “Demining activities need to be accelerated as a matter of urgency, and much more support is needed to help injured Syrians recover.”

“Because of the high contamination with unexploded remnants of war and victim-activated improvised explosive devices, children and families returning to their homes in conflict-ridden areas across Syria are faced with life-threatening risks,” said Alessandra Dentice, UNICEF Deputy Representative in Syria.

“In addition to mine clearance actions in Ar-Raqqa, much more needs to be done to shield children and their families from explosive risks. Mine risk education is key to protecting children by helping them and their families recognize and report explosive hazards.”

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