The war in Syria has left the lives and futures of a generation of children hanging by a thread, UNICEF warned today, as the conflict nears the 10-year mark. The situation for many children and families remains precarious, with nearly 90 per cent of children in need of humanitarian assistance, a 20 per cent increase in the past year alone.
“This cannot be just another grim milestone, passing by in the world’s peripheral vision as children and families in Syria continue to struggle,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore. “Humanitarian needs cannot wait. The international community should make every effort to bring about peace to Syria and galvanize support for its children.”
A decade of conflict has had a staggering impact on children and families in Syria:
- In the last year, the price of the average food basket increased by over 230 per cent;
- More than half a million children under the age of five in Syria suffer from stunting as a result of chronic malnutrition;
- Nearly 2.45 million children in Syria and an additional 750,000 Syrian children in neighbouring countries are out of school; 40 per cent of them are girls;
- According to verified data, between 2011 and 2020:
- Almost 12,000 children were killed or injured;
- More than 5,700 children – some as young as seven years old – were recruited into the fighting;
- More than 1,300 education and medical facilities and personnel have come under attack;
- The reported numbers of children displaying symptoms of psychosocial distress doubled in 2020, as continued exposure to violence, shock and trauma has had a significant impact on children’s mental health, with short and long-term implications.
The situation in northern Syria is particularly alarming. In the northwest, millions of children remain displaced, with many families having fled violence multiple times, some as many as seven times, in search of safety. They have suffered through another long winter – battling severe weather, including torrential rain and snow – living in tents, shelters and destroyed or unfinished buildings. More than 75 per cent of the grave violations recorded in 2020 occurred in the northwest.
In Al-Hol camp and across northeast Syria, 27,500 children of at least 60 nationalities and thousands of Syrian children associated with armed groups are languishing in camps and detention centres. Violence has recently surged in Al-Hol, putting lives at risk and highlighting the need for long-term solutions including the reintegration in local communities or the safe repatriation of children to their countries of origin.