UNICEF reports of a Syrian children generation that knows nothing but war

Syrian refugee children attend a class at a makeshift school set up in a tent at an informal tented settlement near the Syrian border on the outskirts of Mafraq, Jordan. The U.N. agency for children says more than 80 percent of Syria's children have been harmed by the five-year-old conflict, including growing numbers forced to work, join armed groups or marry young because of widening poverty. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen, File)

Syrian refugee children attend a class at a makeshift school set up in a tent at an informal tented settlement near the Syrian border on the outskirts of Mafraq, Jordan. The U.N. agency for children says more than 80 percent of Syria’s children have been harmed by the five-year-old conflict, including growing numbers forced to work, join armed groups or marry young because of widening poverty. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen, File)

In a report released by UNICEF, they estimated that one in three Syrian children have known nothing but war, as the war enters its sixth year.

Forced from their homes and schools, orphaned by violence and drafted into work or fighting, a generation of Syria’s children is being shaped by the conflict, UNICEF said in a new report.

“Every Syrian child under the age of five has known nothing but a lifetime shaped by war — that’s an estimated 2.9 million children inside Syria and at least 811,000 in neighbouring countries. Five years into the war, millions of children have grown up too fast and way ahead of their time,” said Peter Salama, UNICEF’s regional director for the Middle East and North Africa.

Syria’s war has killed more than 270,000 people and, according to the UN, forced more than half of a pre-conflict population of 23 million from their homes.

“As the war continues, children are fighting an adult war, they are continuing to drop out of school, and many are forced into labour, while girls are marrying early. Inside Syria, nearly seven million children live in poverty, making their childhood one of loss and deprivation,” Salama said.

More than 200,000 children live in areas of Syria under siege, and at least 2.1 million children inside the country, and 700,000 in neighbouring countries, are out of school, UNICEF said.

Child recruitment by armed forces and groups has been a recurring trend as since 2014 recruited children are younger than in earlier years, some are as young as seven years old.

“Children report being actively encouraged to join the war by parties to the conflict offering gifts and ‘salaries’ of up to $400 a month,” it said.

“These children are receiving military training and participating in combat, or taking up life-threatening roles at the battle front, including carrying and maintaining weapons, manning checkpoints, and treating and evacuating war wounded. These children are used to kill, as executioners or snipers included,” UNICEF said.

Search in Site