Eleven years of conflict has devastated the lives of millions of Syrians
Funding must continue in order to support 6.7 internally displaced and 6.8 million refugees
International community must continue to do everything in its power to deliver peace
Tuesday, 15th March 2022 As the crisis in Ukraine unfolds and the world’s eyes are on the plight of refugees from that context, less attention is being given the lives of Syrian children, as the war that has devastated a nation moves into its eleventh year.
“Syria remains the country with the largest number of internally displaced people; 6.7 million. On top of this, 6.8 million people who have fled the country and are now refugees. They must not be forgotten as new crises arise. We are still facing a protection crisis with unfathomable consequences for Syrian children, and we must also prioritise their needs. “ said World Vision's Syria response Director, Johan Mooij.
"Humanitarian needs in Syria have increased by a staggering 29 percent since 2020 as a result of ongoing conflict, displacement and the socio-economic impacts of the COVID-19 crisis. Lebanon, a country that hosts 1.5 million refugees is experiencing an economic crisis, and now the Ukraine conflict is likely to have further impact. Lebanon depends on Ukraine for 90 per cent of its wheat, so there is a severe increased risk of hunger for the most vulnerable in Lebanon, including Syrian refugees.
Syria is one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a child. An estimated 55,000 have been killed since the war began eleven years ago. Thousands have suffered grave violations of their rights, including recruitment into armed groups. Nearly half of all children in northwest Syria are currently out of school and almost 90 per cent are in dire need of mental health and psychosocial support. As families struggle to survive, children are increasingly exposed to the risk of being forced into early marriage and dangerous labour.
“Whilst we fully support the aid and attention given to people impacted by the crisis in Ukraine, we are worried that increased need in other parts of the world could divert much-needed funds from other crisis situations, like Syria. Now is not the time to slow or stop our support for millions of Syrian families, many of whom do not have the means to support themselves. We also call on the international community to continue to prioritise achieving a sustainable peace in Syria. We must collectively push for a lasting political solution and ensure lives are spared, and children are given the chance of a future. Global diplomatic bandwidth must be expanded to address the situation in Syria, as the UN mandated aid border crossings is due for renewal in July and routinely under threat of being closed due to diplomatic wrangling at the UN Security Council. Failure to renew UN mandated aid border crossings could cause a humanitarian catastrophe, including hunger, due to 3.4 million people being dependent on the last aid border crossing point as a vital lifeline for humanitarian assistance.”
Last year a World Vision report revealed that the economic cost of a decade of conflict in Syria is estimated to be over $US 1.2 trillion and, even if the war ended then, its cost would continue to accumulate to the sum of an additional $1.7 trillion in today’s money through until 2035. One year on, World Vision is gravely concerned of the growing human costs of this war.
“As the world rightly reaches out to support refugees fleeing Ukraine we urge those who have the political power to also prioritise Syrian children. Boys and girls aged five or six can name every type of bomb by its sound, but sometimes can barely write their name, having missed out on the chance of an education. We cannot let them remain trapped in this cycle of violence. They have experienced war and displacement for 11years now, and they too deserve safety, protection and access to education, so that they too experience the same opportunities in life that every child deserves, regardless of where they come from.”
Notes to Editor
World Vision has been responding to the Syrian crisis since the start of the war by providing more than $34 million’s worth of aid in 2021 alone, through services such as child protection, health, education, water and sanitation
World Vision has been delivering life-saving assistance and health, WASH, education, protection and livelihood support to over 1.2 million people inside Syria since the start of the crisis in 2011. Humanitarian organizations face an unprecedented funding crunch threatening their response to the Syria crisis. Only 15 per cent of funding of the financial requirements have been received so far. This includes operations inside Syria and in neighbouring countries.
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