News / Middle East

Syrian War Takes Devastating Toll on Children

FILE - Children run across a street to avoid snipers in Deir al-Zor, eastern Syria, Feb. 16, 2014.
FILE - Children run across a street to avoid snipers in Deir al-Zor, eastern Syria, Feb. 16, 2014.
Lisa Schlein
The United Nations Children's Fund is calling attention to the affect that three years of conflict has had on Syria's young people, saying the crisis is the "most damaging conflict for children in the region's recent history."

According to a new UNICEF report released Tuesday, 5.5 million Syrian children now need assistance because of the war -- a number that has more than doubled in the past year. Among the hardest hit, it says are one million children living under siege and in hard to reach areas in Syria.

The report says of January, violence has killed more than 10,000 children in Syria, who are often are not accidental victims of war, but rather deliberately targeted.  Witnesses say children and infants have been killed by snipers, or become victims of summary executions or torture.  Schools have been bombed.

UNICEF highlighted what it called "deep developmental and emotional scars" left by the fighting.

The report notes 1.2 million refugee children living in camps and host communities in neighboring countries also suffer from the war.  They have limited access to clean water, nutritious food or opportunities for education.

Syria’s Children in CrisisSyria’s Children in Crisis
x
Syria’s Children in Crisis
Syria’s Children in Crisis
Jane MacPhail, a UNICEF child protection specialist who works with refugees in Jordan, said many of the Syrian children "are in pure survival mode" and "forget normal social and emotional responses" to what they have seen.

UNICEF says thousands of Syrian refugee children have to work to support their destitute families and many girls are forced into early marriage.

Simon Ingram, UNICEF’s Middle East and North Africa Regional Chief of Communication, says many Syrian internally displaced and refugee children are suffering profound emotional and psychological distress from the war. 

“Here we are talking about the hidden injuries, the hidden wounds that have been inflicted on children because of what they have experienced; the behavioral changes, the nightmares that they carry around with them - the way in which they can no longer function as normal children do.  And, this is an aspect of the crisis, which has been too often overlooked, but which is growing all the time," he explained.

The report says the millions of children affected by the crisis are at risk of becoming a "lost generation."

It cites the trouble kids have accessing education, both among those who have been forced to flee their homes and those who remain in areas where schools have been damaged, destroyed or taken over by fighters.

UNICEF said half of Syria's school-age population cannot go to classes on a regular basis and that about one in five schools cannot be used.

Another big risk facing Syrian children is the lack of adequate healthcare. The report says an estimated 60 percent of Syria's hospitals have been damaged or destroyed.

The result has been an increase in the number of pneumonia and diarrhea cases, as well as a greater vulnerability to diseases like the measles.

Last year, the U.N. started a massive, months-long vaccination campaign after Syria's first polio outbreak since 1999.

UNICEF said many of the children fleeing Syria arrive at the border malnourished as well.

The report sums up the threats facing Syria's kids by calling the country "one of the most dangerous places on Earth to be a child."

The report also called for a number of steps to help alleviate the crisis which include ending the violence, increased access to children in besieged or hard-to-reach areas, more funding for psychological support and aid to help provide services in countries hosting Syrian refugees.

The fighting in Syria has continued despite international efforts to find a political solution to the crisis. Two rounds of peace talks in Geneva between the Syrian government and rebels trying to oust President Basher al-Gassed have yielded little progress, but those trying to mediate the process say they will continue to seek an agreement.

The U.N. estimates the total number of people killed in the fighting is well over 100,000, with 6.5 million people displaced within Syria and nearly 2.5 million refugees in neighboring countries.

You May Like

Changing Under Pressure, IS ‘Potent’ as Ever

US intel officials describe Ramadi's fall as concerning, but say it isn't emblematic of larger effort to degrade IS capabilities More

Nigeria Fuel Shortage Shows Fragility of Africa’s Oil Giant

Although it is the largest oil producer in Africa, country has nearly ran out of fuel it needs to power its generators, cars and airplanes over the past week More

Arrested Football Officials Come Mainly From the Americas

US Justice Department alleges defendants participated in 24-year scheme to enrich themselves through corruption of international soccer More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Anonymous
March 13, 2014 9:09 AM
About Assad and his recent photo he posted at a shelter in Adra... It's a propaganda photo to pretend he is a great guy. But it doesnt matter what he doesn now, his crimes have already been commited so they won't go away, he will be prosecuted eventually. He never cared about civilians before, don't know why he is now. I guess he realises he has to put on a show because he is going to be served justice whether he likes it or not, there is no escape for him.

I guess the saying goes "It's a little too late..."

by: Adisorn Yangcharoen from: Samutprakan, Thailand
March 12, 2014 1:35 AM
Killing children have to be denounced as the cowardly and despicable act of those responsible to the conflict. As Thai teacher, I believed that killing school age kids in Syria is the destruction of their own nation. Kids are forces to improve the country.

by: MUSTAFA from: INDIA
March 11, 2014 10:24 PM
Israel.Saudi arabia,Turkey,Qatar,Jordon and NATO be ready in front of God. We can make fool in this world because we have power to make fool but no body can make fool on DAY OFJUDGEMENT in front of GOD. We have given so many tears and pain for these innocent children just to satisfy our self.

by: Anonymous
March 11, 2014 8:24 PM
Very very very sad situation in Syria, and that is children, not to mention women, and elderly, or even worse handicapped or people who have illnesses and need regular medical attention.

By the world donating towards help for these people is a good thing, but it will only continue to happen forever until there are consequences for those involved to face justice.

Many aerial bombardments in civilian populated areas kill lots of children. As well cordoning off areas by assads troops to try and starve the opposition from both food and medical supplies is also a crime. What a disgrace the UN has to ask assad to go in and help these victims.

Assad has shown ZERO remorse for ANY of his "accidental deaths" and has only killed more and more. There is something wrong with this picture. Since ww2 nearly every war criminal has been brought to justice. This day and age this should not be happening. Assad is not exempt from murdering anyone he likes.

Assad has never been taught he has to pay the price for the things you do in life, good or bad. Killing innocent people is the worst thing in the world one can do, even if you consider it "accidental". We the world have seen the brutality of the so called "Syrian Army" we have also seen it on the other side. The only way assad has ever known to stay in power is by brutality, just like his father did years ago. We know assad is responsible for what the Syrian army does, and so does assad.

The world would be a better place if assad was taken in by the International Criminal Court custody, and had to answer to his crimes. Even if it meant going after a secondary government if they took seat and committed crimes, they too should be held accountable. The more people assad kills, the more opposition will grow. He uses terror against the opposition, so of course they are going to do the same thing back with what little they have. The country is now plunged backwards 30 years in many areas or older due to the destruction.

What would you do if you came home from the corner store and your home was leveled to the ground and your entire family was killed by SAA bombardment with barrel bombs? Would you join the opposition trying to protect your own butt from being killed by assad in the future?...

by: meanbill from: USA
March 11, 2014 7:36 PM
WAR? ... should be the very last resort.. (be it a war with another country, or a civil war) .. and it's because of one-side or the other wanting to gain power over the other government..
WHY? ... did the US and EU fund and supply weapons to the anti-Assad fighters, (when no matter what, war is the last option?), and Syria was the most Democratic country in all Islam?
WHY? .. did the US and EU say Assad must go? ... after he had offered concessions, that the US and EU wouldn't accept, when it wasn't any of their business what Syria did?
WHO'S .. responsible for all these innocent men, women and children's deaths? .... LOOK who's supplying the funds and weapons to the anti-Assad fighters, and terrorists? ....... REALLY

by: Karen Spisak from: Tampa, FL
March 11, 2014 1:37 PM
I would like to share this, but would love for there to be links to ways people can help directly in the article.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Cari
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
May 27, 2015 9:31 PM
Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.

VOA Blogs