Wednesday, 20 Mar 2019

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Explosive hazards pose fatal risks to children and families in Syria

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Health Desk: 05 April 2018: Marking the International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action, the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF are calling for concerted international action in response to the devastating health consequences of explosive hazards in Syria. More than 8 million people are exposed to explosive hazards in Syria, including over 3 million children.

In 2017, at least 910 children were killed and 361 children were maimed in Syria, including by explosive remnants of war and victim-activated improvised explosive devices. In the first 2 months of 2018 alone, 1000 children were reportedly killed or injured in intensifying violence.

The situation in Ar-Raqqa city is of particular concern. An estimated 200 000 children, women, and men have returned to the city and outskirts since last October. These families are at tremendous risk of being killed or maimed by explosive hazards that litter the city. At least 658 people were reportedly injured and more than 130 killed by landmines, booby traps and unexploded ordnance in Ar-Raqqa city from 20 October 2017 to 23 February 2018 – an average of 6 blast wound incidents per day.

“Explosive hazards are having devastating health consequences in Syria, especially in Ar-Raqqa, where people are being killed or terribly injured almost every day,” said Elizabeth Hoff, WHO Representative in Syria. “Demining activities need to be accelerated as a matter of urgency, and much more support is needed to help injured Syrians recover.”

Only 2 private hospitals are currently functioning in Ar-Raqqa city. The nearest public hospital is more than 100 kilometers away in Tal Abyad. For those who have sustained serious injuries or lost limbs, only 2 public physical rehabilitation centres in Syria provide prosthetic limbs – one in Damascus and one in Homs.

This severely restricted access to medical care has caused some injuries to turn into lifelong impairments which could otherwise be prevented through proper and timely care.