|GENEVA, Mar. 14, 2018 -- UN officials on Tuesday highlighted the suffering of Syria's 8.5 million children, saying that in 2017 the deaths of 910 children were verified due to the conflict.
It was compared with 652 the year before, said Marixie Mercado, spokesperson for UNICEF in Geneva at a media briefing here.
"Disproportionate attacks in densely populated areas kill a growing proportion of children who now account for one-quarter of civilian deaths," said Mercado.
She said that in 2017, at least 961 children were recruited and used in the conflict -- nearly triple the number in 2015.
"An overwhelming majority of recruited children serve in combat roles, directly on the frontlines, exposing them to death and disability.
"It is important to note that these are verified numbers -- the true figures are certainly much higher," said Mercado.
Further, she said, more than 1.7 million children are out of school, and an additional 1.3 million are at risk of dropping out.
UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Kate Gilmore told a panel on children's rights on Tuesday that the conflict in Syria is soon to enter its eighth year and the "catastrophic humanitarian situation underscores" the failure of the international community to protect civilians, "most notably children."
"Homes, ambulance bases, hospitals, schools, which under international law, should be sanctuaries for children have been ruthlessly targeted," said Gilmore.
The official said, "As the Commission of Inquiry on Syria reported last year, the targeting of schools is 'one of the most vicious patterns of the Syrian conflict, ... estimated to account for half of all attacks on schools worldwide from 2011 to 2015.'"