SYRIA REGIONAL CRISIS
The conflict in Syria has now entered its sixth year, March 15 2016 marks five years since it began. With no end in sight, it has become one of the worst humanitarian crises of the 21st century. Since the start of the hostilities in 2011, OCHA estimates that more than 250,000 people have lost their lives and over a million people have been injured. The situation in Syria is heartbreaking, and it is deteriorating.
As ever, it’s children who are affected the most.
- Over 2.1 million children are out of school inside Syria.
- Approximately 2 million children are living in hard to reach areas in Syria.
- Over 200,000 children are living under siege.
- The United Nations has documented over 1,600 cases of grave child rights violations.
13.5 million people remain in need of humanitarian assistance – a twelve-fold increase since 2011 - including more than 6 million children who have lost homes, friends, family members and seen or experienced violence that no child ever should. The effects of this conflict could continue to ripple within Syria and the wider region for decades to come.
UNHCR estimates that as of February 2016 over 4.7 million Syrians – half of them children - have sought safety in neighbouring countries including Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Iraq. Another 6.6 milliion people have fled their homes, but remain in Syria, mostly in hard to reach regions.
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WHAT ARE WE DOING TO HELP?
In the face of the world’s worst refugee crisis in May 2011 we launched a massive response, in partnership with other agencies, to reach as many displaced Syrian children possible.
To date we’ve helped over 2.37 million internally displaced people and vulnerable citizens in host communities since the beginning of the response in 2011.
Please see our latest report from Syria to see how you have contributed to 'Bringing Hope to Forgotten Faces' in 2015.
Our work in Syria
We're helping children and their communities inside Syria through sustainable water and sanitation solutions, psychosocial support for children; household and winter supplies; hygiene kits and baby kits; and filling gaps in fractured healthcare services.
Our Work in Lebanon
We're working with Syrian refugees in Lebanon and with the local communities who are hosting them, providing cash programming through e-cards; municipal repairs and water and sanitation for households; and supporting children through educational and psychosocial programmes.
In Lebanon's Child Friendly Spaces
In addition to operating standard Child Friendly Spaces as a model for child protection in emergencies, we have also adapted the model in Lebanon to meet more long-term and deep-seated psychosocial support needs. The psychosocial support centres work with children referred by parents or the community because they are struggling to cope with the changes around them. The centres provide children with a 12-week cycle of psychosocial support and education to build resilience and restore confidence and self esteem. The courses culminate in community events where children share and learn information on child rights, online safety, gender-based violence and other protection topics. Focus groups with children attending psychosocial support centres or standard Child Friendly Spaces revealed that the children found the surroundings ‘beautiful’ and the activities and gifts – for instance, toothbrushes and soap – useful. After the course over 90 per cent of children share what they've learned with other children. In one instance we found boys were resisting pressure on them to work because of newfound child rights awareness.
Our work in Turkey
In July 2015 we distributed baby kits to refugee families, helping 3,002 children.
Our work in Jordan
We're working alongside Syrian refugees in Jordan and with the local communities who are hosting them, providing remedial learning for school-aged Syrian and Jordanian children, helping nearly 3,000 children who might otherwise have dropped out of the school system; extracurricular and psychosocial activities for children of all backgrounds; drainage, water supply system and sanitation facilities in refugee camps; restored water, sanitation and hygiene facilities to schools in host communities.
Our work in Iraq
We're working in the northern region of Iraq, with people who've fled their homes as the regional crisis worsens, bringing food assistance; drilling boreholes and upgrading water treatment plants; fixed and mobile clinics in areas with no health care; informal and alternative learning opportunities for children; women’s centre to protect women and girls from violence.
Education: Iraq's Let Us Learn programme
Iraq’s education system is in crisis. Among displaced communities, only around 10 per cent of children are attending classes. Our Let Us Learn programme is not school based; instead, it works alongside UNICEF and the Ministry of Education to provide learning opportunities for children and young adults until school becomes possible. The programme includes learning spaces for 1,100 children, teacher training, a mobile reading room for literacy outreach and evening adult literacy classes. Our research at the beginning of the project in April 2015 found that 67.5 per cent of children in the camps had missed between 6 and 12 months of schooling. By September, due to the variety of education alternatives on offer, only 25 children in the camps were not enrolled in some form of learning. In the long term we hope that our centres will continue as schools within the government system.
Regional response team:
Across the region are teams are concentrating on advocacy for children in emergencies and a centralised system for monitoring, evaluation, evidence and learning.
How can I help?
You’ve helped so many. But as the conflict enters its sixth year, humanitarian needs continue to grow, and more and more families need urgent support. 13.5 million people remain in need of humanitarian assistance – a twelve-fold increase since 2011 - including more than 6 million children who have lost homes, friends, family members and seen or experienced violence that no child ever should.
We remain committed to supporting Syria's children until a resolution to the crisis allows them to live in peace and dignity. In 2016 we'll expand support to Syrian refugees in Turkey, particularly focusing on protection and provision of basic services to vulnerable groups including women and children in isolated and underserved areas.
EU REFUGEE CRISIS
As the situation continues to deteriorate in Syria, people are becoming more desperate to flee the violence and seek a safe place for themselves and their families.
Neighbouring countries (Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Turkey) are struggling to host the majority of Syrian refugees (over 4.3 million), so people have started looking for other safe places to escape the violence and persecution in Syria. The International Organization for Migration announced that over 1 million refugees arrived in Europe in 2015. As we’ve seen recently, tragically, many do not make it with over 3,500 people reported dead or missing (UNHCR, 11 Dec 2015).
On the Serbian and Croatian borders we’ve seen an unprecedented number of children and adults (over 587,000 refugees have crossed the Serbian-Croatian border to date) enduring hardships on their long journey to find refuge; forced to sleep outside, lacking proper sanitation and surviving on little food. We know from experience that children making the journey alone are vulnerable to trafficking, forced labour, prostitution and other forms of abuse and violence. Further, during Europe’s harsh winter, refugees don’t have appropriate warm clothing, shelter from the cold, or enough food, leaving them vulnerable to disease.
OUR WORK IN EUROPE
We’re committed to supporting refugees from Syria and other countries wherever they're in need. We are already providing support to refugees travelling through Serbia. So far we’ve helped just over 138,000 of the most vulnerable refugees in Serbia since September 2015, exceeding the initial target of 100,000 refugees. We've also helped 22,049 children and mothers in Child Friendly Spaces and through child protection and outreach work.
In particular we’re looking out for children who are separated from their families, or travelling alone, often in inadequate shoes and clothing with little food or water. In the European winter, adequate clothing and shelter is increasingly important as the refugees are completely unprepared for the cold weather. In particular, children are most vulnerable to the extreme conditions in the Western Balkans where temperatures drop to -20 degrees Celsius. We're distributing blankets, food, bottled water, nappies, baby food, hygiene items, raincoats and winter items.
The situation in Europe changes regularly, so our response is flexible. Our response team is working hard to meet the complex needs of unaccompanied and separated children on the move. So far, we've reunited children from the ages of 3 to 15.
We’ve established Women and Young Child Spaces (WAYCS) – safe spaces for breastfeeding mums, pregnant women and newborns. The centres provide services like psychosocial first aid to deal with the trauma they’re running from, primary healthcare and advice to new mums. For example when access to clean water can’t be guaranteed, mixing baby formula can carry risks of waterborne illness, so breastfeeding support becomes ever more important. With funding from the UK government (DFID) and in partnership with the Start Network we’re giving over 37,500 refugees, including children, new mums, older people and those with disabilities thermal blankets, hygiene kits, bags, socks, gloves, rain coats and other items, to protect them from the cold weather. In addition this project has enabled us to:
- Distribute 2,050 baby kits, 291 anti-stress kits and 766 women's kits at the Women and Young Children's Centre (WAYCS).
- Provide training on infant and young child feeding to our nurses working in the WAYCS, partner NGOs, and local health authorities.
- Identify 34 children at high risk of abuse and exploitation and refer them to the appropriate service providers.
Ibrahim, an 8-year-old Syrian refugee living in Lebanon is forced to work on a farm to help support his family. This conflict is costing Ibrahim and many others their childhood.
We partnered with Frontier Economics to produce The cost of conflict for children report, evaluating the economic losses to countries affected by the conflict; helping to show what life might have looked like for children like Ibrahim had there been no war, and the likely impacts as it continues.
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Stories and Blogs
Our Sarah Pickwick recently spent time in Serbia meeting some of the refugees who are now living with the uncertainty of closing…
What the children of Syria have faced cannot be measured or imagined. They have lost fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters and fri…
World Vision Supporter Kate Jinadu addressed our event in the UK Parliament last week, speaking about the devastating effect the…
15 March 2016 will mark the fifth anniversary of the Syrian conflict. The conflict has quickly become the worst assault on children in a decade; the situation is becoming increasingly worse, with growing reports of violence and targeting of children.
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You can read more about the crisis and World Vision's response by downloading the reports below.
- Lebanon report: under pressure »
- Stand with me: children's rights, wronged »
- Stand with me: ending the war on Syria's children »
- Stand with me: our uncertain future »
- The cost of conflict for children: five years of the Syria Crisis »
So far you've helped us raise over £1,162,000 for those impacted by the war in Syria.
But as the fighting continues we still need more to help those children and families most in need.