A UN expert recently summed up the situation – “millions of children...across the region are witnessing their past and their futures disappear amidst the rubble and destruction of this prolonged conflict”. The UN have also warned that these children could become “a lost generation”.
Speaking shortly after returning from a visit to Syria, Leila Zerrougui, a special representative of the UN Secretary General for Children and Armed Conflict, said she had been “overwhelmed” by the scenes she had witnessed. At a press conference, Ms Zerrougui gave her overall assessment of the plight of Syria’s children, that not only are youngsters suffering violence on a daily basis, many have “lost their family, they have lost their house [and] they lost...hope.”
Last week, US president Barrack Obama pledged a further 195 million dollars of funding for food aid and humanitarian assistance to Syria. The announcement coincided with Eid-al-Fitr, the holiday which marks the end of Ramadan, Islam’s holy month of fasting. President Obama said that many Americans had been celebrating Ramadan and the US wanted to provide help to the millions of Syrians who had been displaced.
Traumatised child refugees
One million Syrian children have become refugees from the conflict and the news agency IRIN went to see the work of one of the non-governmental agencies supporting refugee youngsters in neighbouring Lebanon. Najda Now provides psychosocial treatment to traumatised children through art and drama workshops.
Eleven year-old Faysai is one of the children who have taken part in its workshops. He came to Lebanon nine months ago and was dealing with the trauma of seeing many corpses, including his uncle who was shot dead by a sniper. When asked by the IRIN reporter what he misses about Syria, Faysai replies “my friends, my house and my uncle”. However, the 11 year-old says that he enjoys the art and theatre he has been able to take part in during his time in Lebanon. “In Damascus, I didn’t know how to sing. Now, I can rap,” he says proudly. And some of his drawings have been exhibited as part of a special exhibition, with two having been sold. Faysai is therefore an example of one Syrian youngster who again feels hope for the future, because when asked what he would like to do when he grows up, he replies “I want to be a painter”.
SOS Children is working to support children and families inside Syria. Learn more at our Syria Emergency Appeal 2013.