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Nearly 1 in 4 civilians killed in Syria is a child, Lancet study says

Nearly 1 in 4 civilians killed in Syria is a child, Lancet study says
From CBC - December 6, 2017

As the war in Syria ragedon at the end of 2016, nearly one in four civilians killed in aerial bombattacks wasa child, a new study published in The Lancet Global Health journal says.

More than 17,000 children have been directly killed by weaponsincluding guns, ground explosives and air bombs throughout more thansix years of war, the researchers say.

And that's likely a huge underestimation, lead author DebaratiGuha-Sapirsaid, because the researchers were only able to get reliable data from areas not controlled by the Syrian government. That meanschildren killed in government areashave not been included in the study's analysis.

In the non-government-controlled areas, the shift in strategy from ground battlesto airstrikesin 2013 dramatically increased the number of child deaths while having relatively little effect on actualfighters, Guha-Sapirsaid.

By the end of 2016, she said, "bombs were killing five times more civilians than combatants."

For the first couple of years afterconflict between rebel groups and President Bashar al-Assad's governmenteruptedin 2011, guns were among the main weapons of war and shootings were the main cause of death for civilians. About nine per cent of those killed were children.

But the proportion of children killed skyrocketed as shelling and air bombsbecame the weapons of choice. In 2013, children made up 19 per cent of civilian casualties, according to the data used in the study.Bythe end of 2016, that percentage climbed to 23 per cent.

"The share of children who have faced violent deaths ... is very, very, very high," said Guha-Sapir. Theprofessor of epidemiology atUniversit catholique de Louvain in Brussels has been estimating deaths from war for over a decade, including conflicts in Sudan, Congo-Kinshasa and Iraq.

Many children died in the other conflicts she has studied, Guha-Sapir said, but she believes they way they have diedin Syria is different.

The majority of child casualties of war, in her experience, have died of "indirect" consequences after conflicts wipe out the infrastructure to deliver food,medicine and vaccinations,and leave children vulnerable to disease.

That's happenedin the Syrian conflict too, Guha-Sapirsaidbut large numbers ofchildren have been directlykilled by bombs dropped into urban areas, like Aleppo and the suburbs of Damascus. According to the study data, airstrikesand air-droppedbarrel bombs (large canisters filled with explosives and scrap metal) alone have killed more than 9,200 children.

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