MORE than 1.1 million children have been forced from their homes
by the Syrian conflict, and three-quarters of them are under the
age of 12, a report for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees
(UNHCR) has found.
The report, The Future of Syria: Refugee children in
crisis, says that the civil war, now in its third year, has
had a terrible impact on children.
The report states: "The turmoil in Syria has torn families
apart, with over 3700 children in Jordan and Lebanon living without
one or both of their parents, or with no adult caregivers at all."
The researchers found that exposure to warfare, death, and
destruction has had a lasting and devastating effect on children of
all ages. "Children have been wounded or killed by sniper fire,
rockets, missiles and falling debris. They have experienced
first-hand conflict, destruction and violence. The psychological
effects of such horrific experiences can be far-reaching, affecting
their well-being, sleep, speech and social skills."
The UNCHR report also warns that the two main host countries for
Syrian refugees, Lebanon and Jordan, are almost overwhelmed by the
scale of the humanitarian crisis. As of September, more than
100,000 Syrian children in Jordan were not going to school, and
twice this number in Lebanon. The UN High Commissioner for
Refugees, António Guterres, said: "If we do not act quickly, a
generation of innocents will become lasting casualties of an
Some 77 per cent of Syrian newborn refugees in Lebanon do not
have a birth certificate, the Future of Syria report
found. Un-registered children can become stateless and are more at
risk of abuse and exploitation, the report says. It recommends
renewed international efforts to keep borders open to Syrian
refugees, and greater support for host nations. It also demands an
end to children's being forced to work to provide for their
families, and the expansion of resettlement programmes.
The charity World Vision said that the only hope for Syrian
children engulfed in the conflict were peace talks between the
warring factions. It called on all parties to join talks in Geneva
in January to bring about a lasting end to the civil war.
The Christian advocacy group Open Doors said in a statement that
the announcement of the 22 January date for the Geneva peace talks
was a vindication of their "Save Syria" campaign. Open Doors'
advocacy director for the UK and Ireland, Stephen Rand, said: "In
August we were anticipating US air strikes on Syria. Now we have a
date for talks in Geneva. When a Christian mother in Damascus asks
'Why does no one care that Christians are dying?', we can tell her
there are those who care."