When war broke out in Syria five years ago, none of us could have predicted, let alone imagined the devastation. Millions of shattered lives have swept through Syria and across the Middle East and Europe, as refugees pour out of the country – still. Today marks the fifth year of the conflict. The numbers are overwhelming. 470,000 estimated deaths, 1.9 million casualties, 4.8 million refugees and more than 8 million children (both inside and outside of Syria) impacted by this war.
Save the Children and UNICEF have both released reports marking this chilling milestone. While the data points are sobering, the stories of mothers, and fathers and children in a state of permanent grief and crisis are beyond comprehension.
“Any child who has lived through the last five years will never know the Syria their parents remember. Bombs have turned classrooms, health centers and parks to rubble. The streets where they should be able to play are blocked by checkpoints or littered with explosive remnants of war. Schools and hospitals have closed in the thousands.” – Anthony Lake, UNICEF Executive Director
Save the Children’s regional director for Syria, Sonia Khush, speaking at the United Nations last week, “Children have really lost any sense of the future.” From the report, we hear snippets of daily life for those still inside Syria.
“When I hear the sound of a shell or a plane, then I get very afraid and I hurry to escape and hide under my bed.” – Ahmed, a boy in Douma
“The wounded are left to die because there is no medicine to save their lives.” – Haya, a mother in Eastern Ghouta
Because of the endless fear of aerial bombing, even when food sources are nearby in warehouses, families have been forced to eat leaves and animal feed. Play and school activities, such as still exist, have all been driven underground. Children in some areas will run towards bombs because the shattered furniture that is left behind becomes easy firewood. It’s a grim reality that no parent wants to see their child experience.
Take Action Challenge
Go to Save the Children and UNICEF today. Donate to their relief efforts if you possibly can. Share this story, share these organizations’ heartbreaking but essential work, and take what small steps you can to mark this somber day.
You can read their reports here:
— Save the Children US (@SavetheChildren) March 14, 2016
— UNICEF (@UNICEF) March 15, 2016
Five must reads on the current state of life in Syria:
- Newsweek: Syria’s Five Years, 60 Months, 1,825 Days or 43,800 Hours of War, By the Numbers
- New York Times: Report Paints Dire Picture of Besieged Syria as War Enters 6th Year
- AP: Report paints grim picture of kids’ lives in Syria
- Reuters: Besieged Syrian children run toward bombs for fire wood – aid worker
- AFP: A quarter of a million Syrian children living under siege: charity