World Vision has been rocked by the death of two displaced boys near Syria’s Idlib Al-Abrar camp, who were killed by an unexploded mine. The children, 7 and 11, were playing after school with a metal object they had found 500 meters away from the camp, and brought it home. The object detonated, killing the two brothers and injuring their three sisters.
The five children are part of World Vision’s education project that has been running in the area since May 2021.
World Vision Syria response director Johan Mooij said events like the latest are becoming all too frequent.
“Just two months ago, 100 children could have died as a shelling attack targeted the mosque close to this same educational facility,” Mr Mooij said. “Fortunately, there were no casualties reported then, but one child dies every eight hours inside Syria1.”
Around 55,000 girls and boys have reportedly lost their lives since the conflict started,2 with this summer one of deadliest for Syria’s children – 45 of them have been killed or injured, the United Nations reports.3
“The avoidable death of children is another horrible reminder that children remain the direct and indirect victims of the decade long protracted conflict. Playing fields, mosques, schoolyards, camps and communities must be safe for children, and all warring parties must abide by their obligations under international law to immediately end violations against children,” Mr Mooij said.
World Vision’s operations at the camp have been temporarily suspended to assess the risks and coordinate with mine agencies, as well as local partners. The project targets more than 5000 children and teachers with formal and informal education to ensure “continued learning for displaced girls and boys,”.
Children are at particular risk from unexploded ordnance which are small enough to pick up or kick around, and which children can mistake for toys. World Vision calls on all parties to the conflict must protect children and prioritise their wellbeing at all times. A mine-awareness session was conducted two weeks ago with staff and teachers as part of the project to ensure children and their families are safe.
World Vision is providing ongoing psychosocial support to the family affected, and assessing their needs.