Syria - 10 years
José Bergua, NLG Co-lead
No Lost Generation is marking the 10th year of crisis inside Syria with a series of blog posts shedding light on the comparative situation of children. Publishing one blog post a day, we will underline the needs of children and youth affected by the Syrian crisis and share the experience of our partners responding to their plight. We need to redouble our efforts and rethink our interventions, to shape a better future for 10.7 million children.
This month we are marking the 10th year since the terrible and senseless war in Syria started. It is also more or less a year since the COVID19 pandemic changed our lives in so many ways. As I tried recently to explain to friends or family who know little about Syria what this war means for children, I was asking them to reflect what this past year has meant for us all: a year of uncertainty, a year of not being able to travel freely, a year of not being able to reunite with friends or with sick family members, a year of missing the last days of loved ones, a year of missing health care because of other priorities, a year of seeing our children out of school and struggling in front of a computer all day long, a year of people losing jobs, a year without hugging the ones we love, a year of so much psychosocial distress, fear and anxiety…
Now, imagine if that has happened not for one year, but for 10 years, if it is almost the only thing you know since you were born, if you had to leave your house, your school, your city and your country, if you had to run away from bombs around you, if you were injured or saw friends killed, if you do not have a computer or internet to follow classes online, if your parents have lost all they had and cannot find a job, if you or your sister were married as a child to cope with poverty and fear… if you do not know what will happen next because there is no vaccine against war and poverty…
These 10 years of war have brought unimaginable suffering to millions of people, to millions of children. Almost six million Syrian children were born during those 10 years and know nothing but war. More than 2.5 million children are living as refugees (84 per cent of them in neighbouring countries) and a similar number are internally displaced within Syria. Nearly 80 percent of people live in poverty inside Syria. Close to three million children are out of school in Syria, as well as a third of those living as refugees. Nearly 12,000 verified cases of children killed or injured, that being just the tip of the iceberg. The economic cost of the conflict in Syria is estimated to be over $US1.2 trillion. And the list of horrors goes on and on…
After 10 years it is understandable to be tired, to be frustrated, to question ourselves… but let us not lose our capacity to be outraged at this senseless war. Let us continue to push for an end to it, for a lasting peace. In the meantime, let us redouble our efforts to continue supporting all those children, adolescents and young people, within and across borders.
However, despite this grim picture, it would be far worse if we had not been there. I think it is important to remind ourselves of all that has been done and continues to be done, thanks to the generosity and commitment of host countries, governments, donors, communities and, of course, NLG partners. Within the framework of the 3RP and the Syria HRP, and under the banner of No Lost Generation, a lot has been done. As I read these days the blogs and inspiring stories that our NLG partners are sharing, as I read about UNFPA’s efforts to combat child marriage, about the Back to Learning programme in Lebanon, about World Vision’s support to women and girls with disabilities in northwest Syria, about Yassin, about Nader and his two young sons, about Sima and Ahmed, about Maise, about Faysal realizing his dreams in Gaziantep… about all those real stories our partners are sharing these days… as I think about my recent visit to a UNICEF Makani Centre here in Jordan… I cannot help thinking that for many many children, adolescents and young people we have made a real difference and continue to do so. We cannot be complacent: we need to do better and we need to do more. But we can also be proud.
After 10 years it is understandable to be tired, to be frustrated, to question ourselves… but let us not lose our capacity to be outraged at this senseless war. Let us continue to push for an end to it, for a lasting peace. In the meantime, let us redouble our efforts to continue supporting all those children, adolescents and young people, within and across borders. Let us continue to advocate for predictable and flexible funding to continue making a durable difference with and for them.
Yes, after 10 years a whole generation of children has suffered so much… But not all is lost. We need to keep the hope alive. We owe it to them.
Amman, 15 March 2021
No Lost Generation co-chair
UNICEF Regional Advisor for No Lost Generation and Strategic Partnerships
Middle East and North Africa Regional Office
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.