Five children aged between 6 and 13 were killed on New Year’s Day when their school, run by UK NGO Syria Relief, was hit by artillery. News outlets report that 4 adults were also killed by the attack in Sarmin, Idlib. Twelve children were injured by the bomb, amongst the adults injured, two teachers were injured, one of whom has had to have their leg amputated. The school hit is run by Syria Relief and the injured teachers are Syria Relief staff.
913 children are currently out of education because of the damage done to the Syria Relief school and the trauma they are suffering from Wednesday’s incident.
As well as working to help get the students back in education, Syria Relief are helping with the medical treatment, visiting the families of those killed and working to provide psychological support for children affected by the incident
Eye-witnesses claim that it was a cluster bomb which landed at 11:44am on Wednesday January 1st, 100m from the school.
This is the 6th school of Syria Relief’s to have fallen victims of military action since the start of the Idlib offensive on April 30th, 2019. Syria Relief are the largest NGO provider of education in Syria, running 159 schools across the country.
In September, Syria Relief launched a report entitled ‘No School To Go Back To which detailed the impact of deliberate targeting of schools is having on Syrian children and the Syrian economy. The report found that:
- Areas that have had schools targeted experience temporary strikes in illiteracy
- The targeting of schools makes a political settlement to the police close to impossible, as it embitters the population to the forces who choose to flout international law through the destruction of school
- Girls and children with disabilities are put at a greater disadvantage, due to the tendency of regressive attitudes to prevail when children are out of education
- Teachers and children are attending school less, due to fear that the classroom is no longer safe due to the bombing campaign
- NGO resources are being spent on trying to address the huge need for psychosocial support for the thousands of children suffering from mental trauma that comes from growing up in a war zone, to tackle the increasing likelihood that children will fall out of school and struggle to learn at the same pace as other children, due to severe trauma
A statement by Charles Lawley, Syria Relief’s Head of Advocacy and Public Relations, states:
“It is with a great sadness that we must announce that another one of our schools was hit on New Year’s Day, killing five of our children. Unfortunately, our hopes for 2020 to be the year where the suffering of the Syrian people stops feels like they have already been dashed, as we have started the year with five young lives extinguished by this awful, merciless conflict.
“Two of the victims were six-years-old, the others were nine, eleven and thirteen. None of these children will have had a memory of life in Syria before this conflict. Now they will not know a Syria after the conflict. These were lives consumed by this war and taken by this war. Wishing others a “happy new year” rings hollow today, there is nothing happy about this year for the people of Idlib.”
NOTES TO EDITORS
Syria Relief are based in Denton, Greater Manchester and are the largest Syria-focused based NGO in the UK. Last year alone, Syria Relief distributed hundreds of millions worth of aid across Syria and helping approximately 3 million people in Syria. Their projects include:
- Running hospitals, mobile clinics, primary health centres, family planning clinics and prosthetic limbs centres, helping over 250,000 people
- Running 159 schools, giving over 55,500 children in Syria an education
- Providing vocation training, cash for work and small business support and rehabilitation of farming, raising livestock and water treatment, helping nearly 20,000 people
- Providing clean water facilities for over 1.5 million people
Syria Relief representatives are available for interview. Please contact Head of Advocacy & Public Relations Charles Lawley on firstname.lastname@example.org@syriarelief.org.uk or call 07535 415 060