Who suffers most during civil war? Who needs the most help during such a devastating event as the Crisis in Syria? Many argue that it is the children and families of disaster who suffer the most. Losing family members, having to leave their homes with nothing, leaving everything they know and hold dear, often becoming victims of abuse, terror and much worse.
This March will mark the end of the third year of crisis in Syria – and the start of the fourth. Protests against President Bashar al-Assad’s regime began back in March 2011. Since that time, the crisis seen more than 100,000 dead, millions displaced, and the crisis gaining the official title of ‘civil war’ by the international Red Cross.
In August 2013, the situation escalated even further with a chemical weapons attack. A UN report confirmed the use of nerve agent sarin in an attack on the Ghouta region around Damascus. According to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, this was the “most significant confirmed use of chemical weapons against civilians since Saddam Hussein used them” in Halabja in 1988.
Reports vary on the outcome of the attack. Medicins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said at least 3600 patients displaying “neurotoxic symptoms” were treated, of which 355 died. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said it had confirmed at least 502 deaths.
The Violations Documentation Centre (VDC) listed at least 588 fatalities, including 135 women and 108 children. A preliminary US government assessment found that 1429 people had been killed, including 426 children.
With the ongoing crisis escalating, more and more Syrian civilians have fled their homes. In the past three years, more than two million Syrians have left their homes to take refuge in neighbouring countries, while more than four million are displaced within Syria. It has been estimated that three-quarters of all refugees are women and children.
How the crisis is affecting the children of Syria
More than five million children have been affected by the Syria Crisis. Unfortunately, having to leave home is not the worse threat they face. Many have lost family members and friends, witnessing atrocities most people wouldn’t even dare to dream of.
Those children have to face the dangers of war in day-to-day life. They face the threat of disease and malnutrition. They have limited access to safe drinking water and sanitation, and with more than a third of all hospitals closed, it is extremely difficult to access healthcare.
For those children who have no one to take care of them, many become victims of abuse. They can be forced into early marriages, they can be forced join child militia gangs, and they can be recruited into child labour.
For the children of Syria, not only does this affect their way of life, it also puts their future at risk. One in five schools in Syria have been damaged, destroyed, or are being used for other purposes. Refugees in the countries surrounding Syria have strained resources to such a point that education is no longer an option. No education means no future.
How can you help?
If you want to help the children affected by the Syria Crisis, you can donate to UNICEF Australia. UNICEF helps to provide the essentials these children need to survive, including food, clean toilets, medicine, schooling, trauma counselling, and shelter. Find out more about the Syria Crisis, what UNICEF is doing to help, and what your donation would mean to the children affected by the crisis by visiting the UNICEF website.