FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Children Pay the Highest Price for the Refugee Crisis

The world is witness to a rapid increase in the number of people forced to flee from wars, conflict and persecution in countries such as Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan. It is estimated that approximately half of the 19.5 million registered refugees at a global level are children and youth. They are the most vulnerable victims of these conflicts.

The case of Syria is paradigmatic. Three years of conflict have turned Syria into one of the most dangerous places to be a child, according to UNICEF. Out of a population of 21.9 million, more than 9 million are under 18.  It is estimated that 5.5 million children are affected by the conflict, a number that is almost double from the year before. More than 4.29 million children inside Syria are poor, displaced or caught in the line of fire.

International aid organizations have been doing a remarkable job helping the population of countries affected by wars. However, only in Syria, one million children are living in areas that aid workers cannot reach regularly, thus depriving them of vital support. More than a third of Syrian families are no longer living in their own homes or communities, seriously affecting their health and quality of life.

As a result of the fall in immunization rates –from 99 percent before the war to less than 50 percent now -polio has reemerged in Syria, after a 14-year absence. At the same time, doctors report an increase in the number and severity of cases of measles, pneumonia and diarrhea. In response to the polio outbreak, UNICEF, the World Health Organization (WHO) and health ministries in the region have launched the largest immunization campaign in the region’s history, targeting more than 25 million children.

The capacity of the country’s health care system to provide assistance to the population has been seriously affected. Many doctors and health personnel have either been killed or have left the country. 60 percent of the public hospitals have been damaged or are out of service.

Many times, militants bomb health care facilities, wait for first responders and emergency crews to come in and then strike again, thus maximizing the impact of their attacks. On April 27, 2016, the Al Quds field hospital in Aleppo was hit by an airstrike. It killed 30 people, including 2 health workers, and injured 60 people, completely destroying the facility.

Dr. Abdo El Ezz, an Aleppo physician says, “The war in Syria has violated and destroyed anything called “agreements” or “an agreement” or “human rights” or anything humanitarian…Hospitals are looking for coffins because people are pouring in, some are completely burned and soon die. We need to bury them…Some people wish to die so they can finally rest and not live in constant terror and see constant destruction.”

An estimated 37,000 children have been born as refugees and over 83,000 Syrian pregnant women are living as refugees in Lebanon and Jordan, placing a heavy burden on those countries health and social systems. For example, Lebanon is planning for 600,000 schoolchildren this year –twice the number currently enrolled.

Syrian children refugees are at very high risk for mental illness and have poor access to education. In the Za’atari refugee camp in Jordan, for example, one third of all children displayed aggressive and self-harm behaviors. According to Europol, Europe’s policy agency, more than 10,000 thousand unaccompanied refugee and migrant children have disappeared, raising fears they are being exploited and used for sex.

The Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) rate among Syrian refugee children is comparable to that observed among other children who experienced war. A study by the Migration Policy Institute shows that refugee children who are not formally educated are more likely to feel marginalized and hopeless, making them probable targets for radicalization.

What is experienced by Syrian children is also experienced by refugee children coming from other countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq. Few people have expressed as poignantly as James Fenton the tragic fate of these children. In his poem “Children in Exile” Fenton writes,

‘What I am is not important, whether I live or die –

It is the same for me, the same for you.

What we do is important. This is what I have learnt.

It is not what we are but what we do,’

 

Says a child in exile, one of a family

Once happy in its size. Now there are four

Students of calamity, graduates of famine,

Those whom geography condemns to war…’

 

More articles by:

Dr. Cesar Chelala is a co-winner of the 1979 Overseas Press Club of America award for the article “Missing or Disappeared in Argentina: The Desperate Search for Thousands of Abducted Victims.”

Weekend Edition
February 15, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Matthew Hoh
Time for Peace in Afghanistan and an End to the Lies
Chris Floyd
Pence and the Benjamins: An Eternity of Anti-Semitism
Rob Urie
The Green New Deal, Capitalism and the State
Jim Kavanagh
The Siege of Venezuela and the Travails of Empire
Paul Street
Someone Needs to Teach These As$#oles a Lesson
Andrew Levine
World Historical Donald: Unwitting and Unwilling Author of The Green New Deal
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Third Rail-Roaded
Eric Draitser
Impacts of Exploding US Oil Production on Climate and Foreign Policy
Ron Jacobs
Maduro, Guaidó and American Exceptionalism
John Laforge
Nuclear Power Can’t Survive, Much Less Slow Climate Disruption
Joyce Nelson
Venezuela & The Mighty Wurlitzer
Jonathan Cook
In Hebron, Israel Removes the Last Restraint on Its Settlers’ Reign of Terror
Ramzy Baroud
Enough Western Meddling and Interventions: Let the Venezuelan People Decide
Robert Fantina
Congress, Israel and the Politics of “Righteous Indignation”
Dave Lindorff
Using Students, Teachers, Journalists and other Professionals as Spies Puts Everyone in Jeopardy
Kathy Kelly
What it Really Takes to Secure Peace in Afghanistan
Brian Cloughley
In Libya, “We Came, We Saw, He Died.” Now, Maduro?
Nicky Reid
The Councils Before Maduro!
Gary Leupp
“It’s All About the Benjamins, Baby”
Jon Rynn
What a Green New Deal Should Look Like: Filling in the Details
David Swanson
Will the U.S. Senate Let the People of Yemen Live?
Dana E. Abizaid
On Candace Owens’s Praise of Hitler
Raouf Halaby
‘Tiz Kosher for Elected Jewish U.S. Officials to Malign
Rev. William Alberts
Trump’s Deceitful God-Talk at the Annual National Prayer Breakfast
W. T. Whitney
Caribbean Crosswinds: Revolutionary Turmoil and Social Change 
ADRIAN KUZMINSKI
Avoiding Authoritarian Socialism
Howard Lisnoff
Anti-Semitism, Racism, and Anti-immigrant Hate
Ralph Nader
The Realized Temptations of NPR and PBS
Cindy Garcia
Trump Pledged to Protect Families, Then He Deported My Husband
Thomas Knapp
Judicial Secrecy: Where Justice Goes to Die
Louis Proyect
The Revolutionary Films of Raymundo Gleyzer
Sarah Anderson
If You Hate Campaign Season, Blame Money in Politics
Victor Grossman
Contrary Creatures
Tamara Pearson
Children Battling Unhealthy Body Images Need a Different Narrative About Beauty
Peter Knutson
The Salmon Wars in the Pacific Northwest: Banning the Rough Customer
Binoy Kampmark
Means of Control: Russia’s Attempt to Hive Off the Internet
Robert Koehler
The Music That’s in All of Us
Norah Vawter
The Kids Might Save Us
Tracey L. Rogers
Freedom for All Begins With Freedom for the Most Marginalized
Paul Armentano
Marijuana Can Help Fight Opioid Abuse
Tom Clifford
Britain’s Return to the South China Sea
Graham Peebles
Young People Lead the Charge to Change the World
Matthew Stevenson
A Pacific Odyssey: Around General MacArthur’s Manila Stage Set
B. R. Gowani
Starbucks Guy Comes Out to Preserve Billionaire Species
David Yearsley
Bogart Weather
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail