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FAQs: Syria’s War, Children, and the Refugee Crisis

Here’s an overview of the conflict in Syria, the refugee situation in nearby countries, and our response.

| By World Vision staff

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Highlights

  • Nearly 12 million Syrians have been displaced by the fighting — more than 7.6 million within Syria, and more than 4 million as refugees in neighboring countries.
  • More than 1.6 million Syrian children are refugees.
  • Refugee children are at risk of becoming ill, malnourished, abused, or exploited. Millions have been forced to quit school.
  • We’re assisting affected families with interventions like clean water, cash assistance for food, hygiene kits, basic household goods, clothing, Child-Friendly Spaces, and education.

A nation and region ruined by war

Syria’s conflict has devastated the nation, forcing half of the country’s population to leave their homes. An upsurge in fighting has complicated aid efforts and driven some families deeper into despair.

Here’s some background information on the humanitarian needs in the fourth year of war in Syria.



How many people have fled their homes?

More than 7.6 million people are internally displaced (IDPs) within Syria, and more than 4 million have fled as refugees to neighboring countries. More than 1.6 million Syrian children are refugees, the United Nations says.



Does the number of refugees show any sign of slowing?


No. On average, more than 100,000 Syrians register as refugees every month. Their main destinations are Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt, and Iraq, though conflict in Iraq discourages that option.

Snapshots From the Lives of Syrian Refugees

What are the refugees’ greatest needs?


Refugees need food, clothing, and basic household and hygiene items. They need reliable supplies of clean water, as well as sanitation facilities.

Children need a safe, protective environment and a chance to play and go to school. Adults need employment options in case of long-term displacement.

Where are the refugees living?


More than 1.1 million refugees are in Lebanon. Many have taken up residence there in communities’ abandoned buildings, sheds, spare rooms, garages, and in tent settlements on vacant land. Conditions are often crowded and unsanitary. Even so, families struggle to pay rent for these spaces.

As of October 28, Turkey is hosting more than 1 million Syrian refugees. Iraq, facing its own armed conflict, is hosting about 220,000 Syrians.

More than 610,000 refugees have settled in Jordan, mostly with host families or in rented accommodations. About 80,000 live in Za’atari, a camp near the northern border with Syria, and about 12,400 live in Azraq, a camp that opened at the end of April.

What risks do children face?


Children are especially susceptible to malnutrition and diseases related to poor sanitation. Many suffer from diarrheal diseases and dehydration.

Because of the breakdown of the Syrian health system and lack of adequate immunization, there have been outbreaks of measles and even polio in Syria and among refugee children.

Children are more vulnerable to sexual abuse and exploitation in unfamiliar and overcrowded conditions. Without adequate income to support their families and fearful of their daughters being molested, parents — especially single mothers — may opt to arrange marriage for girls as young as 13.

Tour a Child-Friendly Space for Syrian Refugee Children

 

What is the impact on refugee children’s education?


After years of conflict, at least 3 million children have left education. The decline in education for Syrian children has been the sharpest and most rapid in the history of the region, according to UNICEF.

For children in Syria, the reasons are many: schools destroyed or occupied by warring groups or displaced families, teachers absent or deceased, and insecurity.

For refugee families that don’t live in camps, paying rent and other expenses can make it difficult for parents to afford books, uniforms, and tuition fees for their children. In some cases, children must give up school and start work to help provide for their families. In Lebanon, the government has opened public schools to Syrian children, but language barriers, overcrowding, and the cost of transportation keep many refugee children out of school.



What is World Vision doing to meet people’s needs?


World Vision provides aid to refugees and host communities in Lebanon and Jordan.

Aid includes distributing personal and household supplies and providing clean water and sanitation. Programs for children include remedial and supplemental education so they can return to school, as well as safe places where children can play and recover from emotional scars.

The organization is also working in northern Syria, providing critical food aid and winterization efforts.

You can help children and families affected by the Syria refugee crisis. Give Now
Reporting from Brian Jonson and Patricia Mouamar, World Vision communications staff in Lebanon and Jordan, and Chris Huber, Kathryn Reid, and Denise C. Koenig in the United States.

Bring Hope to One of the Hardest Places