The pleading eyes of children hurt and homeless because of the Syrian refugee crisis and civil war cry out for help. The latest symbol of their suffering is Omran, 5, whose photo sitting dazed in an ambulance after being rescued from a destroyed building in Aleppo, Syria, on August 17th, was shown around the world. Hundreds of thousands more are in harm’s way in Syria as we call for a 48-hour ceasefire. We’ve been providing relief to civilians in this area since 2013 and are working to scale up our response.
Why are Syrians fleeing their homes? How is the war affecting children? How can I help those affected by the Syria refugee crisis and show them God’s love? Read on.
“The children of Syria have experienced more hardship, devastation, and violence than any child should have to in a thousand lifetimes,” says Dr. Christine Latif, World Vision’s response manager for Turkey and northern Syria.
World Vision staff in the region say the situation in Aleppo city is the most dire they have ever seen it. World Vision has worked in Aleppo governorate since 2013.
“Civilians have been continually in harm’s way, caught in the cross-fire and changing front lines. Civilian infrastructure has been targeted, leading to mass civilian casualties, including women and children,” says Angela Huddleston, program manager for the organization’s Syria response.
Angela says with high levels of civilian casualties, stores of medical supplies are being depleted rapidly.
World Vision plans to increase its response in Aleppo, she says. Food, health care, and water are urgently needed. Food stores are not sufficient to last for longer than a month of siege, say locals.
Vital supplies and services are in short supply in Syria and in surrounding countries where more than 4.8 million Syrian refugees have fled.
World Vision’s work in Syria includes:
- Food assistance
- Primary health care in health facilities and mobile clinics
- Medical and nutritional aid for women and children
- Baby care kits for displaced families
- Water and sanitation services
- Child protection outreach to communities
- Psychosocial care and play for children
Pray with us: God, you love the little children. Each Syrian child is precious to you. Please protect children in the middle of this conflict. We ask you to bring peace to Syria for the sake of your children. In your name, Amen.
Syrian refugee crisis: Fast facts
- 13.5 million people in Syria need humanitarian assistance due to a violent civil war.1
- 4.8 million Syrians are refugees, and 6.5 million are displaced within Syria; half of those affected are children.2
- Children affected by the Syrian conflict are at risk of becoming ill, malnourished, abused, or exploited. Millions have been forced to quit school. See new photo slideshow.
- Most Syrian refugees remain in the Middle East, in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, and Egypt; slightly more than 10 percent of the refugees have fled to Europe.3
- Peace negotiations continue despite a fraying and piecemeal ceasefire.
How does the war in Syria affect children?
Read about how the war is affecting Syria’s children in a special report from the World Vision magazine, “Syria Crisis and the Scars of War.”
- Children are susceptible to malnutrition and diseases brought on by poor sanitation, including diarrheal diseases like cholera. Cold weather increases the risk of pneumonia and other respiratory infections.
- Many refugee children have to work to support their families. Often they labor in dangerous or demeaning circumstances for little pay.
- 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, some as young as 13.
- Between 2 million and 3 million Syrian children are not attending school. The U.N. children’s agency says the war reversed 10 years of progress in education for Syrian children.
Why are Syrians leaving their homes?
- Violence: Since the Syrian civil war began, as many as 386,000 people have been killed, including nearly 14,000 children, says the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The war has become more deadly since foreign powers joined the conflict.
- Collapsed infrastructure: Within Syria, healthcare, education systems, and other infrastructure have been destroyed; the economy is shattered.
- Children’s safety: Syrian children — the nation’s hope for a better future — have lost loved ones, suffered injuries, missed years of schooling, and witnessed unspeakable violence and brutality. Warring parties forcibly recruit children to serve as fighters, human shields, and in support roles, according to the U.S. State Department.
What are the refugees’ greatest needs?
- Syrians fleeing conflict need all the basics to sustain their lives: food, clothing, health assistance, shelter, and household and hygiene items.
- They need reliable supplies of clean water, as well as sanitation facilities.
- Children need a safe environment and a chance to play and go to school.
- Adults need employment options in case of long-term displacement.
- Prayer: Learn how you can pray for Syrian refugees. Join with others as we #PrayForRefugees.
- Compassion: Read this article in Christianity Today by World Vision President, Rich Stearns about treating refugees with the compassion of Christ.
How is World Vision helping refugees and others affected by the crisis?
Since the Syria crisis began in 2011, World Vision has helped more than 2 million people in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq. We also provide aid in Serbia to refugees fleeing to Europe. Learn more about how World Vision responds to emergencies with short-term relief and long-term recovery. View response map to see how we’ve helped so far (PDF).
- Syria: Food aid, health assistance, hygiene support, baby care kits, water and sanitation, shelter repair kits, winterization supplies.
- Iraq: Food aid, health services, water and sanitation, baby kits, stoves and other winter supplies; for children: education and recreation, programming for life skills, peace building and resilience.
- Jordan and Lebanon: Personal and household supplies, clean water and sanitation, education and recreation, Child-Friendly Spaces and child protection training for adults, winter kits and psychosocial support for children.
- Serbia: Basic necessities, including cold-weather gear for refugees traveling to Europe; Child-Friendly Spaces and rest areas for women and babies.