The conflict in Syria has inflicted the highest number of serious violations against children in 2016, with records showing at least 652 kids were massacred during that year, according to UNICEF's assessment of the ongoing war's impact on children.
As the Syrian war stretches on its sixth year, UNICEF notes that the number of children killed in the conflict has increased by 20 percent from 2015. Because of this, 2016 has been labeled as the worst year for Syrian children since the beginning of the child casualties formal tally in 2014.
"The depth of suffering is unprecedented. Millions of children in Syria come under attack on a daily basis, their lives turned upside down," Geert Cappelaere, UNICEF's Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa, said. "Each and every child is scarred for life with horrific consequences on their health, well-being and future."
The UNICEF report notes that 255 children were killed either in school or in the vicinity of one, and over 850 were recruited as child soldiers. Kids are also being assigned to fight on the frontlines, and some are being tasked to perform executions and suicide attacks.
Aside from that, there are also Syrian children who die from illnesses that could have been easily treated if only they had access to proper medical care. There are reportedly around 280,000 children who are living under siege and almost six million who are dependent on humanitarian aid. As of now, more than 2.3 million Syrian children are living as refugees in other countries including Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey.
Despite the bleak situation, Cappelaere said there are also many children who are determined to aspire for a better life in Syria. Many of them risk their lives just to show up for their school exams and to learn new lessons in underground schools.
Earlier this year, an Aleppo girl made headlines because of her open letter to U.S. President Donald Trump. Bana Alabed, 7, called on the Republican leader to help the Syrian children "because they are like your children and deserve peace like you," BBC reports.
Alabed, who fled her country in December with her family, now lives in Turkey. In her letter, she vowed to be Trump's "new friend" if the latter promised to do something for the Syrian children who are suffering because of the long-standing war.