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Report: 2M kids caught in Syrian conflict

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Report: 2M kids caught in Syrian conflict
A Syrian child wounded by shelling is treated at a makeshift hospital at the Qusseer neighbourhood of Homs in Syria, September 6, 2012, government forces shelled a number of areas in northern Syria part of efforts by the regime to target rebel strongholds. UPI | License Photo

DAMASCUS, Syria, March 13 (UPI) -- Two million children, at risk for malnutrition and disease, are caught in the civil war between Syrian troops and rebels, Save the Children said Wednesday.

In its report, "Childhood Under Fire," released to mark two-year anniversary of violence in Syria, Save the Children details the impact of the conflict on children, finding many struggle to find enough to eat; live in barns, parks and caves, and can't attend school because teachers have fled and schools have been attacked.

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The Save the Children report, citing research by Bahcesehir University in Turkey, said one in three children reported being hit, kicked or fired upon.

"Childhood under Fire" also reported how some young boys were used by armed groups while some girls were married off early to "protect" them from a perceived threat of sexual violence, the organization based in Westport, Conn., said.

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"For millions of Syrian children, the innocence of childhood has been replaced by the cruel realities of trying to survive this vicious war," said Carolyn Miles, Save the Children president and chief executive officer. "Many are now living out in the open, struggling to find enough to eat, without the right medicine if they become sick or injured. We cannot allow this to continue unchecked; the lives of too many children are at stake."

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Save the Children, which is providing humanitarian aid in Syria and neighboring countries, has called for all parties to the conflict to allow safe access to populations in need and to ensure all is being done to end the fighting.

Save the Children has planned vigils in 21 countries Thursday to mark two years of conflict in Syria, as well as a virtual vigil.

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