With the verified deaths of at least 652 children in 2016, it was the worst year for Syria's children who are experiencing "horrific" suffering in the ongoing civil war, according to the United Nations children's relief agency.
At least 652 children were killed in the conflict a year ago - a 20 percent increase from 2015, the charity said in a report released Monday. Another 1.7 million Syrian children are unable to go to school because of the fighting.
"I wanted to become a doctor but perhaps I won't become anything because our school was attacked", 6-year-old Ahmad is quoted as saying. UNICEF reported 255 of the deaths came at or near a school and that about 850 children were recruited to fight in the civil war. Those recruited increasingly found themselves on the frontline, or in extreme cases used as executioners, suicide bombers or prison guards. The number of children who were injured increased by 25 percent since 2015.
According to the report, some 12,600 kids crossed active conflict lines in Syria to sit for their final school exams, many traveling for days from hard-to-reach areas.
Education and medical treatment are becoming even more hard to access, and as a result, more families are turning to drastic measures for survival.
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Six million children inside Syria rely on humanitarian aid, and more than 2 million are living as refugees in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and Iraq.
UNICEF warned that social and medical services are continuing to deteriorate, forcing many children into "child labor, early marriage, and combat".
"Over the previous year in Syria, all parties involved have blocked vital aid supplies and millions have become poorer, hungrier and more isolated from assistance and from the world", said NRC's Mideast director, Carsten Hansen, according to The Associated Press.
After six years of war, almost six million children now depend on humanitarian assistance, a 12-fold increase from 2012, the charity said.
UNICEF calls for all of the political parties involved to immediately establish a political solution to the conflict, end all violence against children, and grant refugee host governments the resources to adequately support these children's needs.