children struggling with physical and psychological scars after 11 years of war
DAMASCUS, March 15, 2022 – Eleven years into the crisis in Syria, violence, displacement and lack of access to essential services continue to put children’s lives at risk. Just yesterday, three children were reportedly killed by unexploded ordnance in the city of Aleppo.
Last year, nearly 900 children in Syria lost their lives or were injured. This brings the total number of children killed and injured since the start of the crisis to almost 13,000. Landmines, explosive remnants of war and unexploded ordnance were the leading cause of child deaths in 2021, accounting for almost a third of all recorded injuries and deaths, leaving many children disabled for life.
“Nearly 5 million children have been born in Syria since 2011,” said UNICEF Representative in Syria Bo Viktor Nylund. “They have known only war and conflict. In many parts of Syria, they continue to live in fear of violence and explosive remnants of war.”
The crisis continues to leave psychological scars on Syrian children. Last year, a third of Syrian children showed signs of psychological distress, including anxiety, sadness, fatigue or frequent sleep disturbances.
Although UNICEF does not have precise figures on children with disabilities, it is clear that children with disabilities carry a double burden in terms of violence, threats to their health and safety, hunger, risk of abuse and loss of education. Lack of mobility and difficulty in fleeing from danger further compound the obstacles they face. For their families – as is the case for most families in Syria – limited employment opportunities, soaring prices, unprecedented levels of poverty, severe shortages of basic goods and services, present challenges important for the care of children.
“Like all children, children with disabilities have the right to be cared for and fed. UNICEF remains committed to supporting these children, stigma-free and wherever they are in the country,” said Representative Nylund.
Across Syria and neighboring countries that host an estimated 5.8 million children in need of assistance, UNICEF and partners continue to work to protect children and help them cope with the impact of conflict . This includes improving psychosocial support to help children and caregivers recover from trauma, as well as providing life-saving support and services to children experiencing physical and psychological difficulties.
“I’m happy to be able to go back to school, have fun with my friends and learn,” said Azzam, 12. He lost his leg in the conflict and attends a school supported by UNICEF, which promotes inclusive learning. He is also part of UNICEF’s integrated social protection program which supports him and his family with regular cash assistance coupled with individual support from a case manager.
The integrated program offers vulnerable families the opportunity to pay for the basic needs of their children with disabilities and it connects children to essential essential services.
“We have a long way to go to help more children with disabilities and other war-affected children so they can reach their full potential and grow up healthy and free from harm,” said the representing Nylund.
Notes for Editors
More than 14.6 million Syrians need humanitarian assistance. This includes 5.3 million internally displaced people.
In 2021, UNICEF assisted 11.3 million people, including 7.3 million children, with humanitarian assistance across Syria.
UNICEF and partners provided 220,892 children with mental health and psychosocial support services through child-friendly spaces and mobile teams.
More than 874,400 children and 176,300 caregivers were made aware of the risks associated with explosive devices.
The Integrated Social Protection Program for Children with Disabilities, which started in 2016, reached 11,639 children with disabilities in 2021.