15 children freeze to death in Syria, United Nations say
Extreme weather conditions took the lives of 15 children in Syria – including 13 babies – the United Nations says
Eight children died due to the cold at Rukban camp in southeastern Syria at the border of Jordan, and seven during the displacement of extremist bastion of Hajin located north of the camp.
The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said the freezing temperatures and lack of medical care are what is killing the displaced children, with the youngest being just an hour old at the time of the child’s death.
"In just one month, at least eight children - most of them under four months and the youngest only one hour old - have died," Geert Cappelaere, Unicef regional director for the Middle East and North Africa, said.
The isolated camp is under United States’ military control and a US base is situated nearby. The camp of 4,500 residents is currently denying individuals seeking refuge under the concern ISIS militants could be infiltrating themselves among the civilians.
The camp’s residents, 80 per cent of whom are women and children, describe it as “hell on earth”. The residents are now unable to leave and food is running out after smuggling routes closed in October.
Access to the camp is blocked by Jordan on one side and Syrian forces on the other along with armed units inside the camp, making aid deliveries increasingly difficult. In 2018, only two aid deliveries made their way through, with the last being in November.
"The lives of babies continue to be cut short by health conditions that are preventable or treatable. There are no excuses for this in the 21st century. This tragic manmade loss of life must end now," Cappelaere said.
The cold weather is also affecting people trying to flee the Hajin area of eastern Syria. The region has endured intense fighting between ISIS militants and Kurdish-led forces backed by the US.
"The dangerous and difficult journey has reportedly killed seven children - most of them under one-year-old" in Hajin," Cappelaere said.