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Syrian refugee children face long-term risks, new report shows

  • Majority of children face anxiety and fear, says aid agency
  • As Christmas approaches and winter sets in, World Vision appeals to public and government for funding
  • More than 75,000 Syrian refugee children are in Lebanon, with the number expected to continue to rise
  • Lack of access to schooling for the second year in a row poses long-term risk

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Lauren Fisher

Click to load report PDF: Robbed of childhood, running from warBeirut, LEBANON (December 18, 2012) — Fear and uncertainty among Syrian refugee children in Lebanon is the focus of a new report, Robbed of Childhood, Running from War (PDF), released today in Beirut.

In the report, based on interviews with children in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley over recent weeks, children speak movingly about what they have been through since the fighting in Syria began:
  • “I saw my cousin dying in front of me, so I always see this scene in front of my eyes” – Layla, aged 8
  • “I just want clothes. All mine were burned. I just have the ones I have on” – Hala, aged 12
  • “I want to go back to Syria to wear my new dress and play with my toy, even for one day. I can die the next day” – Rama, aged 7

“It’s heartbreaking to hear stories like this from children,” says Anita Delhaas-Van Dijk, World Vision Lebanon's national director. “Many children are living in dire circumstances, hunkering down against winter storms in plastic sheeting and broken building. But to them, returning home, going to school and feeling safe are just as important as food and shelter.

”With winter approaching, World Vision is aiming to reach more than 40,000 people in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley. The organisation has reopened its Child-Friendly Spaces, which provide children with a safe place to play, interact with other children, and begin the long recovery process that is essential after the trauma they’ve been exposed to.

The report notes that many Syrian refugee children are essentially being denied an education in Lebanon, either because they cannot afford the fees or they are unable to cope with the language barrier between themselves and other children. Some children are facing their second year out of school, posing real, long-term risks, while others have been forced to work to help support their families.

"The longer a child is out of school, the more danger they are in as they fall behind, struggle to reintegrate and become more and more isolated," says Delhaas-Van Dijk.

The report highlights the problems 75,000 Syrian refugee children in Lebanon face. Many more children are expected to join them by the start of next year, and with the future of their home country still uncertain, the organisation is calling on governments and donors around the world to step up their efforts to help those in need.

“As time passes, and with so many children affected by ongoing uncertainty, many of these issues will become even more crucial to address,” says Delhaas-Van Dijk. “We hope this report will help open people's eyes to the problems faced by so many children, and the urgent need to address the refugee crisis in Lebanon.”

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