It is our responsibility
Dr. Ahmed Al-Meraikhi, Special Adviser to UN Secretary-General and NLG champion
In September 2017, No Lost Generation hosted an event where panellists responded to questions from children affected by the crises in Syria and Iraq. During that event, Bana, a then 9-year old girl was watching the panel from her home in Northern Syria via video link. Her pre-recorded message to panellists was “If you love us [children of Syria], support us, and stop the planes from targeting us. And help us to go to school and to be able to study together.” Following the panel I had the immense pleasure to talk with Bana and learn more about her hopes and dreams.
Earlier this month I spoke again to Bana. March 15, 2021 marked a decade of conflict in Syria and Bana has known only war. The bombing worsened until one morning Bana was told by her father that they were leaving. Since 2017, Bana has been displaced three times. Bana was lucky, she was out of school for only six months while others have never known school.
We are on the brink of losing a generation of Syrian children and it represents the greatest humanitarian failure of our time for every single child. They are paying the price of this decade long conflict and we have to do much more to ensure they are safe and protected. Lots of efforts have been put in place to support Syrian children and families, but it is not enough.
Forced displacement is the main driver of child protection risks and 70% of children refugees in Jordan and Lebanon as well as those displaced in Northwest Syria, had to flee because of spikes in violence and attacks. Children and their families move on average at least 2-3 times. In Turkey, there are 460,000 school aged Syrian children still out-of-school and do not have any access to education opportunities. Out-of-school children are one of the most vulnerable groups in Turkey, and face multiple child protection risks, including psychosocial distress, child labour, child marriage and other forms of exploitation and abuse.
Syrian refugee children experience abuse, neglect, violence and exploitation almost daily. Nearly half of Syrian refugee children are involved in child labour while also experiencing high levels of sadness and fear caused by the loss of employment of their parents, and due to limited access to education.
Delivering more sustainable aid is a humanitarian responsibility. It is our responsibility.
There is need to support national child protection systems and legal frameworks that guarantee children’s rights, while maintaining and improving psychological support and specialised case management interventions. The level of violence witnessed and suffered by the children of Syria is immense. While children’s resilience can be remarkable, without adequate support they may face significant effects on their future health and well-being
Governments must scale up their efforts to seek a political solution and stop the war. Without commitment from governments to an inclusive political process and adherence to a cease-fire, children will continue to be among those most affected by the conflict.
Syrian children deserve an education. To feel safe. They deserve hope that they can fulfil their dreams.
It is our responsibility to provide an environment that allows Bana’s dreams to come true for herself and all children affected by a decade of war.
“I wish every child achieves their dream.”