United Nations, Nov 29: As nearly 500,000 children are living under siege amid escalating violence across Syria, the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) has called for lifting sieges and allowing immediate humanitarian access.
The number of children living under siege has doubled in less than one year, Xinhua news agency quoted UNICEF as saying in a press release.
"Nearly 500,000 children now live in 16 besieged areas across the country, almost completely cut off from sustained humanitarian aid and basic services," it added.
"For millions of human beings in Syria, life has become an endless nightmare -- in particular for the hundreds of thousands of children living under siege," said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake.
He added that children are being killed and injured and are too afraid "to go to school or even play". They are "surviving with little food and hardly any medicine".
In the absence of safe spaces, children are turning to basement playgrounds, schools and hospitals to continue playing, learning and seeking medical care when necessary.
In one besieged area, a group of volunteers built a playground and a park by linking a series of basements. On average, around 200 children come to this playground every day. In another besieged area, an underground school provides 250 girls with the chance to keep learning.
As the conflict nears six years, UNICEF renews its call on all parties to lift the sieges across Syria, and to allow and facilitate immediate and sustained humanitarian access to all areas across the war-torn country.