UNITED NATIONS, Jan. 31 (Xinhua) -- Violence, displacement and extremely harsh conditions in northern and eastern Syria have killed at least 32 children since December 2018, the UN children's fund (UNICEF) reported Thursday.
Persistent fighting in the area surrounding Hajin, in eastern Syria, has forced thousands of people to embark on a long and arduous journey to safety at Al-Hol camp for internally displaced people -- almost 300 km to the north, the report said.
Since December 2018, an estimated 23,000 people -- most of them women and children -- have arrived at the camp after the three-day journey in harsh desert winter conditions, with little food or shelter along the way, it said.
Lack of security has made humanitarian access to children en route to the camp's screening area nearly impossible.
The difficult journey, cold weather and long waiting periods at screening centers, where families wait sometimes for days, have reportedly contributed to the death of at least 29 children -- including 11 infants in the past two days alone.
UNICEF said it is assisting children and mothers fleeing the fighting in Hajin with blankets, winter clothing, food, water, health and nutrition services, child-friendly spaces and child protection and family reunification services.
In addition, since last week, fighting in Ma'arat al-Nu'man in Idlib, in northwestern Syria, has reportedly killed three children and injured scores more.
UNICEF has appealed to all parties to facilitate safe, unhindered and sustained humanitarian access to all children in need, and has called on those fighting to keep children out of harm's way, even in areas of active conflict.