Syrian refugee children: ‘We live in constant fear’

To mark the three-year anniversary of the conflict in Syria, World Vision invited children living as refugees to write a report to share their biggest concerns and propose solutions to end the suffering.

By Meg Sattler and Sevil Omer, World Vision
Published March 10, 2014 at 08:00am PDT

Syrian refugee children say they live in constant fear of violence and bullying and believe their futures are uncertain, according to a recent World Vision report.

To mark the three-year anniversary of the conflict in Syria, World Vision invited children living as refugees to write a report to share their biggest concerns and propose solutions to end the suffering.

Children exposed to violence

In Irbid, Jordan, and Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley, 140 children between 10 and 17 years old responded. An English translation of the report was released on Monday.

“We fled the flames of war, only to find ourselves surrounded by danger, explosions, kidnapping, and theft,” the children wrote in “Our Uncertain Future” (.pdf). “We are unable to live peacefully. We live in constant fear that something will happen and affect our life or hurt us.”

Eighty-six percent of Syrian refugee children surveyed say they are exposed to violence in communities where they have taken refuge. They are also prey to physical and verbal abuse and burdened by lack of financial resources.

The voices of Syrian refugee children

The report references child marriage, financial insecurity, and bullying as key concerns for children. It also mentions racism and sectarianism.

“Our fears grow day by day that the war will rage on, that destruction will intensify, and that we will lose many of our friends and relatives who are still under fire in Syria,” a child wrote in the report. “What we fear most is our uncertain future. We are afraid we may never go home.”

Some responses include:

  • “All the Geneva talks, all the different things…the international community is really not listening to us. If they would only listen to us, if they would only get somewhere, if they would only stop the war, the bombs, if they would only make our lives better, and help us to live in peace — that is all we ask.” —*Rheem
  • “If I had a magic wand, I would erase all the destruction that happened in Syria or in any other country and draw instead the best and most beautiful thing for everyone. My dream is to graduate from law school, so that I can support the oppressed and give them their rights.” —*Hanadi
  • “If I could, I would rebuild my country Syria. I would put back the smile on its face, without a drop of hatred or oppression, keeping the smiles and joy in the hearts of the innocent children who haven’t experienced anything in this life except fear, horror, hunger, and displacement. Even though I lost hope in any future, still I will dream. My dreams are to continue my education in the field of law and to become a lawyer and defend the oppressed. I want to raise my voice to the entire world, even if only once.” —*Ahmed
  • “To the global leaders: Wake up. We are not involved or guilty in this. Put yourselves in our place. Would you wish for this?”—*Nour

 

*Names have been changed to protect the identity of the children involved. Photos were taken and are used with informed consent.

Learn more

Three ways you can help

  • Pray for the children and families forced to flee their homes because of violence. Millions are now living in squalid conditions, both inside Syria and in neighboring countries, without access to basic essentials. Pray especially for an end to the hostilities that are fueling an unprecedented humanitarian crisis. Consider using our prayer guide.
  • Make a one-time donation to help those affected by conflict in Syria. Your contribution will help provide essentials like hygiene kits, and established Child-Friendly Spaces, as well as stoves, fuel, and shelter materials to help families survive the harsh winter months.
  • Speak out. Join us in calling on world leaders to take action to ensure the immediate protection of children.

Highlights

  • In the recently released World Vision report, “Our Uncertain Future” (.pdf), 140 Syrian refugee children share their biggest concerns and propose solutions to the crisis in their own words.
  • Eighty-six percent of Syrian refugee children surveyed say they are exposed to violence in communities where they have taken refuge.

Related Articles

Editor's Pick