Amid news of a poison chemical attack right outside of Damascus last week and the sniper attack on a UN convoy today, UNICEF also had harrowing news of its own to announce last Friday. They have recorded the one millionth child refugee who has escaped the war in Syria.
“This one millionth child refugee is not just another number,” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake. “This is a real child ripped from home, maybe even from a family, facing horrors we can only begin to comprehend.”
“We must all share the shame,” said Lake, “because while we work to alleviate the suffering of those affected by this crisis, the global community has failed in its responsibility to this child. We should stop and ask ourselves how, in all conscience, we can continue to fail the children of Syria.”
According to UNICEF most of the Syrian child refugees are under the age of 11 and 7,000 children have been killed since the war commenced. Syrians have fled to nearby Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey. Some are even fleeing to Egypt where there is internal violence there as well.
“It is appalling that the world has stood and watched as one million children have been forced from their country, terrified, traumatized and in some cases orphaned,” said Carolyn Miles, president and CEO of Save the Children.
“This is not a crisis we can sit out; it is not going away. The refugee disaster the war in Syria has created is getting far worse, far faster than the world can cope with. It is now critically important world leaders secure humanitarian access across Syria.
Save the Children released its report, Childhood Under Fire, in March that details the extent to which children have been adversely affected by over two years of war in Syria. The report reveals that boys are being used as runners and human shields and girls are being married off early in order to protect them from sexual violence.
Malnutrition is also rife in refugee camps. The Word Food Programme is now providing food assistance to 1.1 million people in Syria’s neighboring countries.
The UNHCR, the UN’s Refugee Agency, has registered all million children who have fled Syria. They have also provided birth certificates for all babies who have been born in refugee status in order to prevent stateless births.
As aforementioned, children who are refugees face many challenges including early marriage, lack of education, having to go to work early, sexual exploitation, and child trafficking.
This video from UNICEF and the UNHCR shows the lives of Syrian refugee children.
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Millions of dollars are needed every week in order to provide assistance to the millions of Syrian refugees.
Featured photo: © UNICEF/NYHQ2013-0495/Wreford