Love Shines through in War ZonesMother’s Day and Father’s Day remind us one of the greatest love on earth – parents love. Moms and dads never cease to love their children and always try to give them the best. However, not every parent is capable to do that, especially those living among disasters and conflicts. In April, images and videos of Alyouself, a Syrian father crying and carrying his twin babies who had died during a chemical attack, quickly spread all over the internet. His story stirred many hearts. However, there are many other tragic stories, and we must not forget about those living among the world’s many crises and disasters.
The Largest Humanitarian CrisisWe are living in a generation where humanitarian needs are growing and exceeding historical records. Over 20 million people are facing starvation across South Sudan, Somalia, Nigeria, and Yemen. The United Nations says this could be the largest humanitarian crisis since 1945.
More than 65 million people are forcibly displaced around the world. About 21 million of them are refugees, and among them, half are children. Syria is still the country that produces the largest refugee population. Seven years into the conflict and still no peace is in sight.
What Syrian Children NeedIn Hong Kong, after six years, a child finishes primary school and attained basic reading, writing, and math skills. Yet, in Syria, after six years, children have had a miserable childhood, being displaced and uneducated.
Across Syria, schools, hospitals, roads, and water supplies have all been targets of bombing and remain unrepaired. While in host countries such as Jordan and Lebanon, resettlement has become long term, stretching, and adding pressure to these countries’ economies, social welfare, and resources.
Children living in crisis like this are bearing the unthinkable, including:
- A deficit of food, nutrition and health services: The World Food Programme has warned that children in Syria now face “irreversible” health problems as a result of nutrient deprivation. Child and maternal mortality is also rapidly increasing in Syria and neighbouring host countries.
- Child labour: Many refugee children have to work to support their families. Often they labour in dangerous or demeaning circumstances for little pay.
- Child marriage: Without adequate income and fearful of their daughters being molested, parents may opt to arrange marriages for their daughters. The number of girls married under-18 in Jordanian communities hosting refugees has nearly tripled, from 12% in 2011 to 32% in 2014.
- Unprotected: Refugee children are more vulnerable to violence, such as being raped, sexually exploited, or trafficked; unaccompanied children are especially vulnerable.
- Loss of education: Of the 2.4 million refugee children, nearly 900,000 are not in school, while inside Syria, 2.1 million children are without access to education. Girls are particularly affected.
- Detrimental impact: Children displaced by violence have vivid and recent memories of warfare, casualties, and terror. Without urgent psychosocial recovery support, there are fears that the current generation will fall into a repeated cycle of violence.