Charity: UNICEF looks at the plight of Syrian children as the war moves into its tenth year.
UNICEF has played a central role in the COVID-19 crisis, but it has not taken its eye of the ball with regard to other crises around the world – especially in the case of children affected by war. Some 4.8 million children have been born in Syria since the conflict began nine years ago. An additional 1 million were born as refugees in neighbouring countries. They continue to face the devastating consequences of a brutal war.
“The war in Syria marks yet another shameful milestone today,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore. “As the conflict enters its tenth year, millions of children are entering their second decade of life surrounded by war, violence, death and displacement. The need for peace has never been more pressing.”
According to verified data from 2014, when official monitoring began, until 2019:
– 5,427 children were verified killed and 3,639 verified injured in the conflict
– Close to 5,000 children were recruited into the fighting
– Nearly 1,000 education and medical facilities came under attack.
The true impact of this war on children is likely to be more profound. Ted Chaiban, UNICEF Regional Director for UNICEF in the Middle East and North Africa said: “It is evident that nine years of brutal fighting brought the country to the brink. Families told us that in extreme cases they had no choice but to send their children to work or marry their girls early. No parent should be forced to make such decisions.”
In north-west Syria, the escalation in armed conflict, combined with harsh winter conditions and plummeting temperatures, on top of an already dire humanitarian crisis, have exacted a heavy toll on hundreds of thousands of children and families.
In the north-east, at least 28,000 children from more than 60 countries remain languishing in displacement camps, deprived of the most basic services. Wider impacts of almost a decade of conflict include: damaged schools (2.8 million children are out of school), non-functional health facilities; lack of specialized services for physical or mental disabilities and prices of basic items have increased 20-fold.
UNICEF works with a wide network of partners inside Syria and in neighbouring countries to provide aid to millions of children, such as routine immunization or vaccination against measles, psychosocial support, formal and non-formal education, water, sanitation and hygiene facilities.
UNICEF currently needs $682m to maintain these lifesaving programmes, but funding is short. Please help.