Children can’t see future in Syria after 10 years of war: charity

Beirut, March 9 (AFP/APP): Many Syrian children, both inside and outside the country, cannot imagine a future in their homeland as the conflict there enters its 11th year, a charity said Tuesday.

“This 10-year war has cost Syria’s young people their childhoods,” Save the Children’s regional director Jeremy Stoner said. “Protracted conflict has led to fear and pessimism about children’s ability to build their lives in a country scarred by war,” he said in a statement.

Syria’s war has killed more than 387,000 people and displaced millions since starting in 2011 with the brutal repression of anti-government protests. Between November and December 2020, Save the Children interviewed 1,900 displaced children and their caregivers inside Syria and across Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and the Netherlands.

On average, 86 percent of surveyed Syrian refugee children said they would not want to return to their country of origin, the British charity said, citing a report it published marking the anniversary. “I don’t want to go back there. I don’t want to go back and live in Syria again. I don’t want to stay in Lebanon either,” Nada, a 17-year-old Syrian refugee living in northern Lebanon, was quoted as saying. “No matter where I go, if we go to school, they bully us and tell us they don’t want us.”

Inside Syria, one in three displaced children surveyed said they would rather live in another country, the non-governmental organisation reported. They include Lara, a seven-year-old who lives in a displacement camp in northwestern Syria. “After 10 years, our future became all about war,” she was quoted as saying. “I wish to live in any country other than Syria, where it’s safe and there are schools and toys.”

More than 8.5 million Syrian children are dependent on assistance inside Syria and in neighbouring countries, says the United Nations child agency UNICEF. Up to 60 percent of children are unable to consistently access or afford adequate food inside Syria, and more than half are missing out on school, the UN says.

Of almost 5.6 million registered Syrian refugees outside the country, more than one million children have been born in exile, it says.

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