Syria children
A child inside a field hospital after airstrikes in the rebel held Douma neighbourhood of Damascus, Sep.12, 2016. Reuters/Bassam Khabieh

At leat 652 children in Syria died during 2016 as a result of the ongoing violence in the country, UNICEF said in a press release Sunday, making it the worst year yet for Syrian children since formal verification of child casualties began in 2014. The death toll was a 20 percent increase over 2015.

UNICEF found the number of children recruited to participate in the war doubled since 2015; more than 850 children were recruited in 2016 in various capacities such as executioners, suicide bombers etc and about 255 children were killed in their schools. All in all, about 6 million children in Syria depend on humanitarian assistance now, an increase of over 12 times since 2012. Millions more have been displaced and are now living as refugees in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and Iraq.

“The depth of suffering is unprecedented. Millions of children in Syria come under attack on a daily basis, their lives turned upside down… Each and every child is scarred for life with horrific consequences on their health, well-being and future,” Geert Cappelaere, UNICEF regional director for the Middle East and North Africa, said in the press release.

Read: EU Helps Public Schools Prepare To Take In 800,000 Children Fleeing War

Another recently released report by Save the Children, called Invisible Wounds, found that children in Syria are suffering from “staggering levels” of ‘toxic stress” that can cause permanent and irreversible damage. More than 70 percent of children interviewed reportedly displayed symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. Loss of speech, associated speech impediments, increased aggression and resorting to substance abuse as a coping mechanism, were things commonly observed among Syrian children.

But despite the grim horrors surrounding them, Cappelaere said there were still several remarkable stories of children who aspire to learn and continue to hope for a better future. For instance, Darsy (12), now a refugee in Turkey said: “I want to be a surgeon to help the sick and injured people of Syria. I dream of a Syria without a war so we can go home. I dream of a world without any wars.”

“We continue to witness the courage of Syria’s children. Many have crossed frontlines just to sit for school exams. They insist on learning, including in underground schools. There is so much more we can and should do to turn the tide for Syria’s children,” Cappelaere emphasized.

If you want to help Syrian children realize their dreams, here are some ways in which you can contribute:

Send money here to UNICEF who has been on the ground in Syria since the conflict began, providing critical services including water, nutrition, education, health care and immunizations, child protection, psychological support and clothing to children in Syria. It has also been helping Syrian refugee children and families in Iraq, Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt and Europe.

Send money here to the UN Human Rights Office which assists in several humanitarian aid activities, such as supplying emergency shelter kits, warm clothing, extra thermal blankets, low energy heaters, diapers and other hygiene items to families, along with setting up emergency education and protection facilities for children.

Donate to the White Helmets here. The group's member "deal with the aftermath of government air attacks," by offering immediate help to victims. They search through rubble, give medical care and also help victims fix their damaged houses.

Donate here to By paying $50, you can buy blankets for 10 children. With $100, you can pay for orphan care. With $150 and $200, you can help with education supplies and with $250 you can gift Syrian children a household shelter kit.

Donate here to Mercy-USA, to "help provide the lifesaving food, water, shelter and support these families desperately need."