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Syrian children suffering disturbing effects of conflict

  • United Nations reports number of Syrian refugees reaches one million
  • World Vision releases report citing tie between early child marriage and conflict zones, disasters

Media contact:

Lauren Fisher
World Vision Media Relations Manager
1.206.310.5476 (c)

Beirut, LEBANON (March 6, 2013) As the number of refugees fleeing Syria tops one million, children are bearing the brunt and the situation is getting worse, says aid agency World Vision today.

“We've seen the misery that more than one million refugees are facing – multiplied all across the region, but we know the individual stories of children behind these numbers too,” said Anita Delhaas-Van Djik, World Vision Lebanon National Director.

“Children tell stories of sniper fire in their street, bombings of their homes, losing loved ones. So many families have lost everything and it will take years to rebuild their lives. Many are resorting to drastic measures to cope, including some mothers who are even considering marrying off their daughters to ensure their children's own survival. This is why it is vital that we are there to help now and in the years to come.”

Almost two years since the start of conflict in Syria, the numbers of refugees fleeing the country have reached one million much sooner than anyone predicted.

After this length of time, violence, fear and uncertainty become the new normal for children. And that’s the most heartbreaking thing of all.

Our recent report in Lebanon showed stories of fear and uncertainty among Syrian refugee children are commonplace. They speak movingly about what has happened to them: ‘I saw my cousin dying in front of me, so I always see this scene in front of my eyes,’ said 8-year-old Layla; ‘I just want clothes. All mine were burned. I just have the ones I have on,’ 12-year-old Hala told us.

In Lebanon, refugees are living in makeshift shelters, tents, rented accommodation they can’t afford, or with host families. World Vision is reaching more than 60,000 refugees, both those who are registered and those who are too scared to, with food, heating, and basic household supplies.

Children need peace, stability, normality and support to avoid the long-term danger of trauma, and to help them recover. Refugees and host communities are seeing the health, welfare and education services they rely on become overwhelmed to the point of failure.

“Unfortunately, the funding for this crisis is still fairly woeful. The knock-on effect is that UN and others, including aid agencies, are unable to do our jobs of making sure resources are most effectively used and no one is left out. Countries surrounding Syria are playing their part – donor governments must do the same,” Delhaas-Van Djik said.

“The future of the more than half a million children who have left Syria, and the countless more still inside the country, depends on how well the international humanitarian response is funded, organized, brought to them and continued for as long as it is needed.”

Notes to editors:

  • New World Vision research, released today, shines a light on the link between conflict, disasters and early child marriage. For more information: bit.ly/XONhib
  • World Vision’s response to the Syrian refugee crisis includes:
    • Distributing stoves and fuel to more than 1200 families in Lebanon
    • Child Friendly Spaces to help refugee children recover
  • Funding is low, and is hampering World Vision’s aid efforts
  • Children are in need of psychosocial support to alleviate their fears, anxiety, and worry, resulting from the atrocities of the war they have witnessed. There are only 24,000 children enrolled in the Lebanese Public schools. Many more children are in need of Accelerated Learning Programs that will help them enroll in schools next year.
  • Many families remain unregistered or pending registration and unable to access official assistance.

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About World Vision
World Vision is a Christian relief, development, and advocacy organization dedicated to working with children, families, and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice. For more information on their efforts, visit WorldVision.org/press or follow them on Twitter at @WorldVisionNews