Child refugee crisis in Europe will only grow if humanitarian needs in Syria and the region are not met, warns UNICEF


Child refugee crisis in Europe will only grow if humanitarian needs in Syria and the region are not met, warns UNICEF

Lebanon, Marjayoun area, Marj El Khokh camp. Aya 26months arrived 7months ago from Idlib province. The house was destroyed by shelling and they didn't have neither job nor food. Her mother Maha 22yo doesn't want to go back to Syria unless the war stops. She hopes that the parts will find an agreement. The only wish she has for her daughter is that she could grew up in a peaceful Syria. With the conflict in Syria now entering its fifth year, some 14 million children across the region are suffering from the escalating conflict sweeping Syria and much of Iraq. The situation of more than 5.6 million children inside Syria remains the most desperate. That includes up to 2 million children who are living in areas of the country largely cut off from humanitarian assistance due to fighting or other factors. Some 2.6 million Syrian children are still out of school. Almost 2 million Syrian children are living as refugees in Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan and other countries. This is in addition to the 3.6 million children from vulnerable communities hosting refugees, who themselves are suffering due to the strain on services like education and health. Meanwhile, the increasingly interlinked crisis gripping Iraq has forced more than 2.8 million children from their homes, and left many trapped in areas controlled by armed groups. “For the youngest children, this crisis is all they have ever known. For adolescents entering their formative years, violence and suffering have not only scarred their past; they are shaping their futures,” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake. “As the crisis enters its fifth year, this generation of young people is still in danger of being lost to a cycle of violence – replicating in the next generation what they suffered in their own.”

© UNICEF/MENA2014-00020/Romenzi
Two-year-old Aya fled ongoing violence in Syria to Lebanon with her 22-year-old mother.
NEW YORK, 10 September 2015 – The refugee and migrant crisis in Europe will only worsen if greater efforts are not made to end the protracted conflict in Syria and address the humanitarian needs of the millions affected by the violence, says UNICEF today.

“Every Syrian I spoke to has told me that they would have stayed in their own country if they were able to feel safe, live in peace, and be treated with dignity,” said Peter Salama, UNICEF Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa. “They risk their lives and the lives of their children to flee to Europe because they have no other option and they see no future for themselves or for their children.”

The conflict in Syria has left some 16 million people – almost half protection, including basic health care, safe water and sanitation and education.

UNICEF reports that some 2 million children are now out of school inside Syria, while up to 5 million people living in cities and communities across the country have suffered the consequences of long and sometimes deliberate interruptions to their water supplies in recent months. Across Syria, more than half of public hospitals are only partially functioning or completely out of service according to the World Health Organization.

More than 4 million Syrians – half of them children – have fled the country since the conflict started nearly 5 years ago. Latest data from the European Union shows that the largest group of refugees arriving in Europe in 2015 is from Syria – but as efforts are stepped up to address the urgent needs of those making the perilous journeys into and across Europe, considerable support is still required in countries neighbouring Syria. Turkey alone is now home to nearly 2 million Syrians under temporary protection, more than three times the number at the beginning of 2014 and the highest number of Syrian refugees in any single country. In Lebanon, a country of 4.8 million people, 1.1 million Syrians are being accommodated, while Jordan is hosting almost 630,000 registered refugees.

Despite the enormous challenges facing those affected by the conflict, funding for humanitarian assistance is not keeping pace with needs – UNICEF’s appeal for 2015 for programmes in Syria and surrounding countries, totaling HK$7.04 billion (US$ 903 million), is less than half funded.

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