According to United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, half of the 2.2 million registered refugees from Syria are children. A report released by the UN November 29 describes the harsh conditions children are facing as a result of the Syrian Crisis. Researchers conducted interviews as part of a study, by which refugee children were interviewed from Jordan and Lebanon. The following problems were prominent among those children interviewed:
1. Psychological Distress
Witnessing war crimes first hand is traumatizing enough as an adult. As a child, these first-hand accounts may have an embedded impact on the individual and cause severe psychological distress. Syrian children still inside Syria and those who have found asylums elsewhere are suffering psychologically on account of the Syrian Crisis.
2. Fractured Families and Poor Living Conditions
The UN has reported there are presently 70,000 refugee households live without fathers, and more than 3,700 refugee children are separated from or unclaimed by both parents. By living in displaced homes Children are left with intense feelings of loneliness and isolation. In addition to fractured family life, children face poor living conditions at home. According to the UN, 29 percent of children interviewed in the aforementioned stud, explained they leave home once only a week (or less.) The home is typically tiny, crowded, and oftentimes a homemade shelter or tent.
3. Child Labor
Child labor among refugee children is unfortunately common and increasing. Refugee families who are not successful financially will send their children to work. These children provide partial or a majority of the funding for their families. Researchers find in two of the top accepting nations of Syrian refugees, children as young as seven are sent away to work. Additionally, these children may work in unsafe conditions and not receive fair pay. Many of these children work long hours and do not go to school.
4. Lack of Education
Research finds more than half of all Syrian refugee children in Jordan are not enrolled in school. One 14-year-old female participant in the study, a new refugee in Jordan, said, “Our lives are destroyed. We are not being educated, and without education there is nothing. We’re heading towards destruction.” An estimated 300,000 children may not be enrolled in school by the end of 2013.
What can be done? UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres and UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie are working together to demand, “this shameful milestone of conflict must deliver more than headlines.”
“If we do not act quickly, a generation of innocents will become lasting casualties of an appalling war,” said Guterres.
A concerned Jolie said, “The world must act to save a generation of traumatized, isolated and suffering Syrian children from catastrophe.”
– Laura Reinacher
Sources/Photo: CNN, Radio New Zealand News, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees