AN ENTIRE generation of children in Syria is at risk from
disease and harm, as the conflict in the country enters its third
year, a report by UNICEF warns.
More than one million people - half of them children - have been
forced out of their homes and into makeshift camps across the
border in neighbouring countries because of the fighting between
rebel forces and President Bashar al-Assad's regime.
The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall visited a
refugee centre in Jordan this week. The centre is home to 1500
The report, Syria's Children: A lost generation? says
that in areas where fighting is most intense, access to clean water
is severely restricted, skin and respiratory diseases are common,
and the majority of schools have been destroyed or damaged. In
Aleppo, just six per cent of children are in school.
Hospitals have been similarly damaged, and many doctors and
nurses have fled the region.
"As millions of children inside Syria and across the region
witness their past and their futures disappear amidst the rubble
and de- struction of this prolonged conflict, the risk of them
becoming a lost generation grows every day," the executive director
of UNICEF, Anthony Lake, said.
At the end of last year, UNICEF appealed for $US195 million for
Syrian children and their families until June 2013, but only 20 per
cent of funds have come in. An estimated two million children
remain in Syria.
The chief executive of World Vision, Justin Byworth, has just
returned from Syria. He said that funding was "woeful".
"In Lebanon, recently, I met a family with a three-year-old girl
who had crossed the border with nothing, and was sleeping rough on
a freezing park-bench; and a mother who comforted her two-year-old
by telling her the bombs were 'balloons popping'. Many are
resorting to drastic measures to cope, including . . . considering
marrying off their daughters to ensure their children's own
The President of Lebanon, Michel Suleiman, has called for
international action to help his country cope with the influx of
refugees from Syria.
UN investigators in Syria said this week that the violence in
the country had reached "new heights of destruction". Both sides in
the conflict were conducting a "reckless" shelling and aerial
bombardment, with no attempts to limit civilian casualties, they
The chairman of the UN Independent International Commission of
Inquiry on Syria, Paulo Pinheiro, told the UN Human Rights Council:
"If the national, regional, and international actors fail to find a
solution to the conflict . . . the alternative will be the
political, economic, and social destruction of Syria and its
The conflict has left more than 70,000 people dead, and two
million internally displaced.