UNICEF says 2016 was worst year yet for Syria’s children

BEIRUT: The U.N. child relief agency says at least 652 children were killed in Syria last year, making 2016 the worst year yet for the country’s rising generation.

UNICEF says schools, hospitals, playgrounds, parks and homes across Syria are unsafe for children because they frequently come under attack. At least 255 children were killed in or near schools last year.

The agency’s Monday report comes two days before the sixth anniversary of the Syrian civil war.

It warns that coping mechanisms and medical care are quickly eroding, driving children into child labor, early marriage and combat. Dozens are dying from preventable diseases.

One in three of Syria’s schools are unusable, and 1.7 million children still in Syria are out of school. An additional 2.3 million are refugees in the Middle East. –AP