Three Years into Syria, Children are at Greatest Risk

What started three years ago as anti-government protests has spiraled today into a bloody civil war with no end in sight. The brutal conflict has claimed the lives of well over a 100,000 people; it’s estimated that over 3 million have fled the country and are now in refugee camps spread across the Levant and beyond.

One of the most harrowing aspects of this human tragedy has been the unimaginable harm on children. Lives of over 5 million children have been tarnished due to the war according to the UN. Conservative estimates suggest at least 10,000 have been killed. 3 million have been displaced internally in Syria; nearly a million of them are trapped in areas that are under siege or that are hard to reach with humanitarian assistance. Another 1.2 million are now refugees living in overcrowded and under resourced camps in neighboring countries.

Thousand of children have been separated from their families; some living with only one parent while others living unaccompanied with no adult caregiver. In some cases the parents have either died, been detained or have sent their children into exile alone out of fear for their safety. Aid workers work tirelessly to reunite separated children or find families willing to look after them.

Collapse of Syria’s educational system is one of the most tragic aspects of the conflict. It will lead not only to immediate harm but will result in a generation of children without formal education. Prior to the conflict, primary school enrollment had been almost universal for a generation, literacy rates were over 90 per cent. Once the envy of the region, a fifth of all Syria’s school now have been destroyed, damaged or have been taken over by combatants. Nearly 3 million school aged children are now missing from the classroom.

The lack of safe places for healthy development has far reaching psychological repercussions on these young minds. Some stopped speaking out of shock; others randomly start crying from the memory of horror episodes. Death of family and desperation has led many teenagers to consider joining armed groups. Many children are in pure survival mode and have given up hopes and dreams for a future. “I wanted to be a doctor before,” eight year-old Jumana, now living in Turkey, told the UN. Three years of being out of school has caused her to lose hope; she now collects rubbish for US$4 a day.

The faltering state of Syria’s health system is highlighted with the reemergence of polio in the region after 14-years. Damage to the health infrastructure has been alarming – 60% of the country’s hospitals have been destroyed or damaged; less then a third of the ambulances and health centers still function. Immunization rates have fallen to about 50% compared to the 99% prior to the war. Public health is at severe risk due to the collapse of sanitation networks as well. A third of the water treatment plants have been damaged and only a third of the sewage is now being treated.

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Despite the unfathomable horrors of this war, Syrian children continue to show resilience and courage. They’ve stepped up to the challenges of this conflict; providing for their families, making up for lost parents and trying to attend schools – whether it be in a refugees camp or a shelled school. There appear to be no signs of an end to this blood bath and in the face of such atrocity, it’s our turn to step up as well.

Prayer and charity are the main weapons we have – please give generously to the relief effort. Special prayers and vigils are being held around the globe this week to mark three years of this conflict; try organize special prayers this Friday in your communities too.

Some aid agencies:
Islamic Relief US / Canada
Save the Children  

Sources used:
Under Siege, March 2014, UNICEF
The Future of Syria, UNHCR

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6 responses to “Three Years into Syria, Children are at Greatest Risk”

  1. kam says:

    “Prayer and charity are the main weapons we have”… really? What about jihad Fi sabilillah? Without a proper jihad, prayer and charity will be of limited benefit I’m afraid. Our Prophet (peace be upon him) and the sahaba did not defend Islam by simply praying while sitting at home and donating to charity… The sooner the wider ummah at large embraces this reality, the sooner the situation of the ummah will begin to alleviate inshallah. Otherwise, things are only going to get worse, as they progressively are getting…

    • Imran says:

      Subhanallah, I agree as one ummah we must strive and work together to combat opression, however never underestimate the power of a sincere dua as allah azzawajal will always respond to the call of the caller. May allah azzawajal grant peace and prosperity not just to our brothers and sisters in Syria but throughout the world and grant us all jannatul firdaus Ameen

    • Ibrahim says:

      Salaamu alaikum
      >>What about jihad Fi sabilillah? Without a proper jihad, prayer and charity will be of limited benefit I’m afraid.<<
      Jihad? I assume you are talking about shedding more blood on behalf of one or more of the parties involved in this Syrian conflict. Who would you support? Bishar Al Assad? Hardly. But the alternatives are marketplace bombers, rip out the heart and chew on it types, kill and maim everyone not like us types, etc. Jump on the Saudi bandwagon?; yeah they really represent Islam don’t they.
      Where was your call to jihad when Saddam Hussain was butchering the Kurds and Shi’a? Ah, right..the Kurds are of no consequence and the Shi’a well they are not really Muslim so killing them is alright! Just as the killing and maiming of the Syrian Christians was not something to fret about!
      And where was the outcry over Hosni Mubarak for all of those years? As for Palestine…well…ah…oh never mind. Even at this moment, in Misr, where Muslims actually established and where elected democraticly and are overthrown through a US/Israili/Saudi cabal..where is your call for jihad there? The list is endless where we as Muslims are in collusion with monsters to further the unjust shedding of blood almost everywhere there is a masjid with people praying in them.
      And why is it we only have such choices as these? It is because the body of the Ummah is overcome with sickness and evil. If our body has healthy all of these boils, pus and pox that emanate from ourselves would go away.
      Here is the key to it all…understand that there is nothing in this life worth trading your jinnat for. When we fully grasp that fact then we might begin to realize that there is never a valid excuse for doing other than what Allah azzawajal has commanded us to do. There would be no marketplace bombs associated us. There would be no massacres of women and children (boko haram comes to mind) associated with us, and when a cartoonist makes disparaging images of the messenger (saw) we would not act like blithering idiots and would perhaps just shrug our shoulders as the messenger (saw) did when that old woman threw garbage on him as he passed by.
      If you think there is the need for shedding blood first make sure that the reason is a just one according to Allah azzawajal and not because of some self-imagined offense of little import. Become a beacon that radiates the message of Allah azzawajal and your enemies just might, insha’allah, become your brothers and sisters.

  2. O H says:

    Jazak Allaahu Khair brother Waleed for the informative summary. Good to see some real Ummah news amidst this Shaykh Abu Eesa story filling the headlines this week. May Allaah grant victory to the oppressed Syrians, Ameen

  3. there is nothing in this life worth exchanging your jinnat for. When we completely get a handle on that reality then we may start to understand that there is never a legitimate reason for doing other than what Allah azzawajal has instructed us to do.

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