Stolen futures: Child casualties in Syria

This report from the Every Casualty programme at Oxford Research Group examines the information available on the deaths of 11,420 children in the Syrian conflict. Using casualty records from various organisations, the report is able to identify in detail the risks to children of specific ages and profiles, as well as which weapons caused the highest number of child fatalities.

Stolen Futures: The hidden toll of casualties in Syria, reveals that explosive weapons have been the cause of more than 7 out of every 10 child deaths in Syria since the conflict began in March 2011, while small arms fire accounts for more than one quarter of the total. This includes children caught in cross fire as well as others targeted by snipers, summarily executed and, in some cases, tortured. 

Stolen Futures draws on the same Syrian civil society-sourced databases that informed previous casualty statistics published by the UN and others, but examines in unprecedented detail the information they contain on victims and how they were killed. This reveals that: 

  • 11,420 children (aged 17 and under) were recorded killed in the conflict by end of August 2013, from an overall total of 113,735 civilians and combatants killed.
  • Seven out of every 10 child deaths was caused by explosive weapons, making their use the biggest killer of children in Syria. (7,557, or 71%, of the 10,586 children whose cause of death was recorded.)
  • Small arms fire accounted for one in 4 child deaths, including children summarily executed and targeted by snipers. (2,806, or 26.5%, of the 10,586 children whose cause of death was recorded, including 764 summarily executed and 389 killed by sniper fire.)
  • Of the 764 children recorded as summarily executed, 112 were reported to have been tortured, including some of infant age.
  • Children in older age groups were targeted more often than younger children, and overall boys outnumbered girls killed by about 2 to 1. (1,748 vs 3,672.)
  • Older boys in the 13- to 17-year old group were consistently the most frequent victims of targeting killings such as those involving sniper fire, execution or torture.
  • The highest child casualty figures were in the governorate of Aleppo, but relative to its size the worst-affected governorate was Daraa, where roughly 1 in 400 children was recorded killed. (Aleppo, 2,223, or 1 in 985, children killed; Daraa, 1,134, or 1 in 408, children killed.)
  • 128 children were recorded killed by chemical weapons in Ghouta on August 21, 2013.