DAMASCUS – Hundreds of thousands of innocent people have been killed in the seven-year-long Syrian Civil War. An estimated 11 million people have been displaced from their homes, creating one of the greatest refugee crises in history.
Over 270,000 people have fled to southern Syria during the month of July. The single largest displacement of Syrian citizens occurred during the third week of the month following an escalation in the Russian-backed military offensive to recapture the southern portion of the country from anti-government forces.
UNICEF estimates that the lives of 55,000 Syrian children are in jeopardy. They are currently stranded with no access to vital humanitarian aid or shelter in refugee camps.
(Note: A displaced person is someone who has been forced to leave their home. A refugee is a displaced person who has fled to another country.)
The Thomas Reuters Foundation reported that children are getting sick and dying from “drinking dirty water, dehydration, and scorpion and snake bites.”
The NGO Save the Children similarly reported that “This is life or death for these children. They are being subjected to air strikes, barrel bombs, and being cut off from humanitarian aid.”
UNICEF representatives expressed serious concern about the restrictions the Syrian government has placed on access to the children by humanitarian aid agencies.
“Currently, no cross-border humanitarian access is possible from either Jordan or Israel, and no aid has been able to reach these areas from other parts of Syria. Syrian humanitarian workers who were displaced themselves are doing everything they can to provide life-saving support, but are struggling with limited supplies and insecurity.”
The crisis has become a catastrophe.
Save the Children and its local affiliates have thus far been providing children with identity bracelets to help them become reunited with their families in the event that they are unintentionally separated from each other during the mass displacements.
A spokesperson described the crisis on the ground with “Tens of thousands of displaced families are scattered in remote border areas where there are barely even trees to protect them from the blazing sun. There are no tents, toilets or running water and everyone is exhausted, both physically and mentally.”
World Vision’s head of Syria Aid noted that “Failure to address these stress factors means the children are likely to face long-term health problems such as heart disease, strokes, reduced physical and mental stamina, not to mention violence and lifelong poverty . . . The goal is not to ensure the mere survival of girls and boys, but rather to protect their childhood, as such, so that they can grow up to be physically and mentally healthy individuals.”
A salient comment in the Kingston Whig sums up the situation. “The tragic fact is that every Syrian child under the age of seven has never known peace or a settled life. They have lived their entire lives as refugees, stateless and with limited legal rights.”
Join us in praying for the safety of these children.
- Sight Magazine, Syria offensive leaves 55,000 children without aid
- Save the Children, Syria: Urgent Humanitarian Access Needed to Families Displaced by Fighting in Dera’a
- Qantara, Syrian Refugee Children – Urgent action required
- The Whig, Syrian refugee children suffering
- By en: American Committee for Relief in the Near East [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons