Children, the people who have no voice amidst the conflict in a war-torn Syria, are often impacted harder by the war than anyone else. They are left to the mercies of adults that make decisions for them and their country.

The UN Refugee Agency reports that of 2 million registered refugees, half are children. Many of these children now reside in crowded refugee camps, deprived of the opportunity for advancement, and uncertain of when they will be able to return home.

Unless Syria’s children are helped, the country will never be able to fully recover from the war .

How the Syrian crisis is impacting children:

1.   Perhaps the worst consequence of the Syrian civil war is that it is depriving many children of education. Not only does this hurt children now, it also robs them of a future. They are not being equipped to build professional lives. Without educated children, Syria’s future is uncertain. Children will not be prepared to sustain the country when they reach adulthood. This will lead to indefinite instability in Syria.

For most families, returning to Syria to enroll their children in school is not an option. Save the Children reports that 3,900 Syrian schools have been destroyed since the start of the war. Syria is also still a land of widespread violence and insecurity. This forces Syrian refugees to depend on foreign schooling, if they are to receive any education at all.

Lebanon and Jordan, the countries that have the most Syrian refugees, are struggling to accommodate Syrian children in their schools. Both countries are now home to thousands of Syrian children, and lack the resources necessary to provide quality education for all. It is doubtful if and when many Syrian children will be able to resume their academic work.

2.   Instances of child labor increase as enrollment in schools decreases. UNICEF estimates that there are 30,000 refugee child laborers in Jordan alone.

Although there are laws prohibiting child labor, many refugee children end up working out of necessity. Refugee parents, many unemployed or working menial jobs, struggle to support their families with their own meager income. They feel they have no choice but to make their children work in order to make ends meet. Many of these child laborers hold dangerous construction jobs or work with pesticides on farms.

UNICEF provides cash grants to refugee families who remove their children from child labor and enroll them in schools. However, the grants alone, which do not exceed $45 per month, are not enough to put an end to the child labor problem.

3.   Aside from the economic and educational impact, children are also subjected to the same physical and emotional distress of war as adults. Although millions have taken refuge in foreign countries with their families, many are stuck in Syria. The death toll of the civil war exceeds 100,000. Reuters reports that 7,000 of these deaths have been children.

Even if the Syrian crisis were to end today, the country would have a long road to recovery. Helping the children is a vital first step in any post-war recovery. The well-being of the country will one day rest in the hands of its children. It is imperative that the international community step up and provide more substantial aid to Syria’s children.

– Matt Berg

Sources: UNHCR, Voa News, Huffington Post, Reuters
Photo: The Guardian

Food Crisis in Syria
The Syrian Civil War has created a food crisis in Syria. According to the United Nations, nearly “four million Syrians, a fifth of the population, are unable to produce or buy enough food, and farmers are short of the seed and fertilizers they need to plant their crop.”

The food shortage in Syria is a result of “massive population displacement, disruption of agricultural production, unemployment, economic sanctions and high food and fuel prices.” Overall, Syria’s poultry production has decreased by 50 percent and its wheat production is down 40 percent. As a result, food prices have spiked dramatically, with the average monthly price of wheat flour more than doubling between May of 2011 and May of 2013.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization has requested $41.7 million to assist 768,000 people in Syria. So far, the agency has only $3.3 million of the requested funds. The Food and Agriculture Organization is working to assist those who are internally displaced in Syria as well as providing aid to the 1.6 million Syrians who have sought refuge from the conflict in Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey.

In addition to creating a food shortage throughout the nation, the Syrian Civil War has created problems in maintaining health standards for both humans and animals. Before the food crisis, “9.3 percent of children suffer[ed] from wasting and 23 percent of them stunted.” It is likely that these rates have increased since the onset of the food crisis. Additionally, child vaccination coverage has decreased from 95 percent in 2009 to 80 percent in 2012, creating concerns about the spread of diseases. Likewise, “there are practically no routine drugs or vaccines for animals and no vets to administer them,” creating the potential for diseases being transmitted among livestock and intensifying the food crisis.

Jordan Kline

Sources: The Guardian, Reuters

3 Big Ways UNICEF Is Helping Displaced Children In SyriaOut of the 2.1 million residents of Homs, 600,000 have been displaced by the Syrian conflict. This number, roughly 28%, is expected to increase as the violence continues. To help the people in need UNICEF has responded to the need of children in Syria in three big ways.

3. Establishing Remedial Classes in Neighborhood Shelters
UNICEF has established makeshift classrooms in housing complexes around the Al Wa’ar neighborhood which is where many displaced families have taken shelter. According to UNICEF, 20% of schools in Syria have been destroyed completely, damaged, or are being used to shelter internally displaced people. This has left many children without education for the past two years.

2. Vaccinating Children Against Common Diseases 
UNICEF has also begun a vaccination campaign to prevent the outbreak of common diseases such as measles, rubella, mumps and polio. This campaign is being enacted through schools and displaced family shelters and is predicted to help 2.5 million children.

1. Upgrading Water Systems 
As summer rolls into the Middle East, clean water and up-to-date water treatment facilities become a pressing necessity. In the aftermath of the conflict, many neighborhoods are littered with debris and garbage which pose a threat to children in Syria. UNICEF is supporting an upgrade of sanitation and water treatment facilities that will aid people like the extreme heat of summer arrives.

The Syrian civil war began on March 15, 2011, and has since left roughly 6 million Syrians in need of aid and 4 million people internally displaced. Due to these high numbers, many observers are concerned that, if the war drags on, this current generation of young people will become a lost generation.

– Pete Grapentien

Source UN News