AL-BAB, Syria

A Syrian young boy has been living in fear and anxiety since he lost half of his left leg in an attack by the Bashar al-Assad regime five years ago.

A civil war in Syria that started 10 years ago has left nearly 12,000 Syrian children either dead or injured, according to a new report on Tuesday by UNICEF.

The UN children’s agency warned in a statement that the war “has left the lives and futures of a generation of children hanging by a thread,” with nearly 90% of children in need of humanitarian assistance, and a “precarious” situation for children and families alike.

More than 500,000 children under the age of five are suffering from stunting due to chronic malnutrition, the report said. Over 2 million children are out of school, 40% of them being girls.

UNICEF also said the reported number of children displaying symptoms of psychosocial distress doubled in 2020, from continued exposure to violence, shock, and trauma.

The civil war has exposed Syria’s children to trauma that will have long-term consequences, UNICEF said.

Mohammad Ahmad, 10, from Idlib province is just one of the millions of children victimized by the war.

Ahmad lost half of his left leg in a regime airstrike while playing near his home in Idlib in 2015. He had been treated for months in hospitals in Idlib following the attack.

His grandmother Maryam Ahmad, 62, has been taking care of him for the past five years.

Ahmad and his grandmother migrated to the camp of al-Azraq in the city of al-Bab in rural Aleppo in 2019 after the Assad regime and Russia launched intense attacks on Idlib.

Unable to overcome the psychological trauma he had experienced five years ago, Ahmad’s biggest fear is the sound of bombs and planes.

“I was 5 years old when I was injured. My leg was hit by shrapnel while I was playing,” the 10-year old boy told Anadolu Agency. “My grandmother took me to the hospital. I saw that my leg was severed. Now I am using crutches to walk,” he said.

“I’m still afraid of the explosion sounds. I feel very scared when I hear the sounds of planes or guns. A few days ago, a mine exploded here. I ran to my grandmother and hid behind her”, he recalled.

As the Syrian civil war entered its 11th year, the attacks of the Assad regime and its supporters have inflicted deep wounds on millions of civilians.

Syria has been embroiled in a civil war since early 2011 when the Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests with unexpected ferocity.

Over the past decade, hundreds of thousands of people have been killed and more than 10 million displaced, according to UN officials.

*Writing by Zehra Nur Duz

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