Video: Syria’s children speak

Video: Syria’s children speak
Video: Syria's catastrophic conflict has taken a huge toll on the country's children. Killed, wounded, separated from their families and displaced from their homes, a generation is growing up in the shadow of war. We talk to five.
3 min read
19 March, 2015

Syrian children speak

It is a cliché, but no less true for it. It is always the children who suffer the most in wars. And nowhere is this truer than in Syria's four-year calamity.

The numbers speak for themselves.​

Over the last four years around 10.000 children have been killed, 3.5 million children have been forced to flee their homes, and 5.6 million who remain within Syria are

     Parents are afraid to send their children for fear their schools will be attacked.

- Roger Hearn, Save the Children

desperately in need of humanitarian assistance.

A devastating consequence of the ongoing bloodshed is a generation growing up knowing only war and without access to formal eduction.

Of those who remain in Syria around 2.6 million are unable to access education due to the fighting, including the deliberate targeting of school buildings and their use by both regime and opposition forces as bases.

"Across Syria, children are missing out on the education because we cannot reach them, many schools have been destroyed and parents are afraid to send their children for fear their schools will be attacked,"says Roger Hearn, Save the Children’s Middle East Regional Director.

In 2014 alone, 160 children were killed and 343 injured in 68 reported attacks on schools, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund.

Prior to the revolution, nearly all children were enrolled in school. Enrollment now has dropped as low as 6 percent in areas such as Aleppo with the highest levels of fighting.

The situation is not much better for children in refugee camps in neighbouring countries. Almost two million Syrian children live as refugees in Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan and other countries, more than half of whom are not in school, The United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef) said.

In Lebanon, around 200,000 Syrian children could remain out of school at the end of the year.

In the camps, there is an average of only 40 vollunteer teachers to 1,000 students, said Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations in Geneva.

Another troubling outcome of the Syrian crisis is the large number of Syrian children born in exile who have no birth certificates or proof of their nationality. A recent United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, UNHCR, survey on birth registration in Lebanon showed that 77 percent of the 781 refugee babies sampled did not have an official birth certificate. In Jordan's Za'atari camp, only 68 birth certificates were issued to infants born between January and October 2013.

These "stateless children" are especially at risk as they may be denied access to healthcare and education, but also "face increased risk of exploitation, such as trafficking for commercial sex work, illegal adaptation, or child labour," said UNHCR.

Al-Araby Al-Jadeed spoke to five Syrian children born into this bleak situation. The loss of loved ones, violence and suffering will scar their memories and shape their future.

(Video by Salwa Amor)