Ten years after its outbreak , war remains as tangible a reality in Syria as the ruins of its buildings demolished by the attacks that have ravaged the country. A devastating situation that now also adds the effects of covid to a seriously affected population and economy . The prolonged closure of schools and the socio-economic impact of the pandemic have compounded an especially difficult outlook for Syrian children.
According to a balance published by the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef), the war in Syria has caused the death or injury of almost 12,000 children , that is, an average of more than three victims per day.
In an appearance by the NGO’s Middle East Regional Director, Ted Chaiban , the agency has warned of the “overwhelming” impact of the war on children, stressing that almost 90% of them need humanitarian assistance today, a 20% increase in the last year alone due to the pandemic.
“When the war started, nobody believed it would last ten years. And the reality is that each and every one of the Syrian children have felt the effects in one way or another, ”said Chaiban.
During this decade, more than 5,700 children, some as young as seven, have been recruited into the ranks of the Islamic State, while malnutrition continues to threaten the existence and future of hundreds of thousands. More than half a million children under the age of five are stunted. Even so, from Unicef, they fight to eliminate the label of “lost generation”.
Lack of education
Syrian children are not a lost generation. They are brave and persevering, they know how to overcome adversity in an admirable way. We cannot let a moment define their lives, that is why we must continue to support and educate them ”, assured Chaiban.
Of the nearly 2.45 million children who are out of school in Syria , another 750,000 Syrian children in neighboring countries cannot receive formal education, not least because even schools are not a safe place. One in three schools has been demolished during the war or used for military purposes, and more than 1,300 medical and educational facilities and personnel have been attacked.
In this regard, the situation of girls is of particular concern , as they are the ones most at risk of leaving education prematurely. Girls from impoverished or war-torn places are the main victims of an early marriage that already affects 26% of Syrian minors, twice the number before the conflict broke out, according to the NGO Plan International.
Thus, according to data provided by the NGO itself, one in four children suffers emotional stress. Thus, the number of minors affected by psychosocial disorders has doubled in the last year alone due to the effects of the COVID pandemic.
On the other hand, the worrying situation of scarcity has triggered hunger among the population, of approximately 9.3 million people, in which it is estimated that six out of every ten inhabitants are in a situation of food insecurity. According to the NGO Action Against Hunger, in the last year alone the price of the basic basket has shot up 250%.
The rampant devaluation of the Syrian pound and skyrocketing inflation have complicated an already critical situation and have forced thousands of children to work prematurely and in marathon hours.