Childhood Under Siege: Living and dying in besieged areas of Syria

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Save the Children

This report sheds light on the reality of life and death that is being endured by people – particularly children – in besieged areas of Syria, and shows the urgent need for the international community to take action. Save the Children and partners have conducted 22 focus groups with 126 mothers, fathers and children living in besieged areas of Syria, as well as 25 extensive interviews with local aid groups, doctors, teachers and individuals.

After five years of conflict, the suffering of besieged communities, some referred to as “death camps”, is perhaps the most shocking evidence of the international community’s failure in Syria. Since 2014 the United Nations (UN) Security Council has passed six resolutions – one every four months – calling for unobstructed humanitarian access, yet the siege of towns and cities across Syria is stronger than ever.

Save the Children makes the following urgent recommendations:

  • Parties to the conflict must lift sieges immediately and ensure safe passage for humanitarian agencies to deliver aid to populations in need. They must permit the free movement of civilians, facilitating the medical evacuation of those in need in accordance with humanitarian standards.
  • Parties to the conflict must cease attacks on schools, hospitals, and other critical civilian infrastructure, and refrain from using explosive weapons with wide-area effects in populated areas.
  • The International Syria Support Group (ISSG) should ensure that aid is not used as a bargaining chip for political negotiations, and de-link humanitarian access from ceasefire and cessation of hostilities discussions.
  • The ISSG Humanitarian Task Force must ensure sustained and consistent humanitarian access to besieged and hard to reach areas, with one single request allowing multiple regular deliveries, rather than one-off convoys. Regular deliveries should be the norm not the exception.

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