The war in Syria has left the lives and futures of a generation of children hanging by a thread, UNICEF warned today, as the conflict nears the ten-year mark. The situation for many children and families remains precarious, with nearly 90 per cent of children in need of humanitarian assistance, said the United Nations agency, in a press release appealing for $1.4 billion for its response inside Syria and the neighbouring countries for 2021.
A decade of conflict has had a staggering impact on children and families in Syria warned UNICEF describing the incredibly desperate humanitarian condition. Almost 12,000 children were killed or injured, said UNICEF; more than 5,700 children – some as young as seven years old – were recruited into the fighting; while more than 1,300 education and medical facilities and personnel have come under attack.
The condition of the economic and health are equally bleak: In the last year, the price of the average food basket increased by over 230 per cent, said UNICEF. More than half a million children under the age of five in Syria suffer from stunting as a result of chronic malnutrition; nearly 2.45 million children in Syria and an additional 750,000 Syrian children in neighbouring countries are out of school; 40 per cent of them are girls.
"This cannot be just another grim milestone, passing by in the world's peripheral vision as children and families in Syria continue to struggle," said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore. "Humanitarian needs cannot wait. The international community should make every effort to bring about peace to Syria and galvanize support for its children."
A recent report by World Vision echoed UNICEF's concerns. The report revealed the devastating economic cost of conflict for Syria, including the impact of violence and forced displacement on children. According to World Vision, a Christian relief, development and advocacy organisation dedicated to working with children, the conflict over the past decade equals $1.2 trillion in lost GDP.
The report found that even if the war ended today, by 2035 the economic repercussions of the war would equal an additional $1.4 trillion in today's money. That rises to up to nearly $1.7 trillion if the data factord in the fact that children whose education and healthcare have been negatively affected will contribute less to GDP once they are working adults.