Syria's five-year conflict has created 2.4 million child refugees, leading to the recruitment of children as fighters, some as young as seven. There are eight million children in Syria, and in neighbouring countries that need humanitarian assistance, with the international response plan for Syria chronically underfunded, according to No Place for Children, the latest report made by United Nation's children's fund, Unicef.

"Twice as many people now live under siege or in hard-to-reach areas compared with 2013. At least two million of those cut off from assistance are children, including more than 200,000 in areas under siege," it said. Separate reports, made by a number of other aid groups, including Oxfam, have stated that the UN figures showed at least 50,000 people had been killed since April 2014, and 400 children in 2015.

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Children lie on railway track as they hold banners reading 'Open the border' during a demonstration near the makeshift camp close to the Greek village of Idomeni by the Greek-Macedonian borderSakis Mitrolidis/ AFP
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Mohammad, a 13-year-old fighter from the Free Syrian Army, aims his weapon as he runs from snipers loyal to the Syrian regime in Aleppo's Bustan al-Basha district in 2013Molhem Barakat/ Reuters
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A temporarily stranded Syrian refugee child is seen at a camp by the Greek-Macedonian border near the Greek village of IdomeniYannis Behrakis/ Reuters
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Free Syrian Army's young fighters in 2013, holding positions near the front line during clashes with regime forces in AleppoGuillaume Briquet/ AFP

Peter Salama, Unicef regional director for the Middle East and North Africa, has called on donor countries to make money pledges. Salma's agency currently seeks $1.16bn (£810m) for 2016 to help Syria's children, where almost three million are not in school because they have been destroyed.

The Syria conflict began in March 2011 as a popular uprising against President Bashar al-Assad, which quickly escalated into civil war. Since then, almost half the pre-war population of 23 million has been displaced, including more than 4.8 million who fled their homeland. The conflict has affected more than 80% of Syria's children, including seven million who now live in poverty, with 306,000 Syrian children being born as refugees.

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A boy, who is waiting to cross the Greek-Macedonian border, stands by a fire near the village of IdomeniMarko Djurica/ Reuters
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A woman and a man wash their newborn baby at a makeshift camp for refugees near the village of IdomeniAlexandros Avramidis/ Reuters
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A member of the Macedonian police force and a man hold an injured boy during a clash between Macedonian police forces and those trying to cross an illegal crossing point on the border between Greece and MacedoniaRobert Atanasovski/ AFP
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A child, waiting to cross the Greek-Macedonian border, looks out of his tent near the village of Idomeni
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A boy waves from the window of a coach bound for Athens at the Idomeni refugee camp on the Greek Macedonia borderMatt Cardy/ Getty Images
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A child queues for hot soup in a makeshift camp at the Greek-Macedonian borderDaniel Mihailescu/ AFP
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A child who is waiting to cross the Greek-Macedonian border, plays in his tent at a makeshift camp near the village of Idomeni, GreeceMarko Djurica/ Reuters
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A woman comforts her injured son on a beach shortly after they arrived with other refugees on the Greek island of Lesbos, after crossing the Aegean sea from TurkeyDimitar Dilkoff/ AFP
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Children stand outside of their tents near the village of IdomeniOgnen Teofilovski/ Reuters
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People protest about the closure of the Greek-Macedonian border as they gather on railway tracks leading to Macedonia at the Idomeni refugee campMatt Cardy/ Getty Images
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A child plays next to an old statue as another cries next to a fence, outside the main building of the disused Hellenikon airportAlkis Konstantinidis/ Reuters
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A child is held up as people wait to cross the Greek-Macedonian borderMarko Djurica/ Reuters
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A child plays with a ball near the town of Polikastro, GreeceMarko Djurica/ Reuters

Those who have not fled the worn-torn country, have left school to work, have married young or joined armed groups, as a way of supporting their families financially. Many children have been actively encouraged to join the war by parties contributing to the conflict, offering gifts and "salaries" of up to $400 a month. Unicef said it was able to confirm 354 cases of recruitment in 2015, compared to 278 in 2014. Children have also been seen in training for propaganda videos by the Islamic State (Isis/Daesh) group.

"We now face a new and disturbing era, a new and disturbing set of patterns of violations against children's rights that pushes the frontiers of brutality, even during times of war," Salama explained at a news conference. "In short, no place today is safe for Syria's children."

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Abboud (L), 12, and his brother Deeb, 14, stand with their weapons behind sandbags in Aleppo's Sheikh Saeed neighbourhood in 2013. Both school-going children before the civil war,they joined the Free Syrian Army after the deaths of two of their brothers and an uncle in the conflictMuzaffar Salman/ Reuters
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Islamic State propaganda images show child soldiers in SyriaTwitter: @Terror_Monitor
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A Syrian youth holds an AK-47 assault rifle as he takes part in military training at a former school turned into a 'military academy' in Tlaleen JM Lopez/ AFP
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A Syrian boy holds an AK-47 assault rifle in the majority-Kurdish Sheikh Maqsud district of AleppoDimitar Dilkoff/ AFP
children of conflict
Islamic State propaganda images show child soldiers in SyriaTwitter: @Terror_Monitor
children of conflict
Islamic State propaganda images show child soldiers in SyriaTwitter: @Terror_Monitor
children of conflict
A Syrian young boy runs holding an old rifle as he helps fighters belonging to the Martyrs of Maaret al-Numan in the Idlib provinceDaniel Leal-Olivas/ AFP