Our teams working with Syrian refugees in Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq have found that families forced from their homes are being separated from one another as they flee the intensifying conflict. This is leaving thousands unsure of the fate of their loved ones
Friday 3 August 2012
Photo: Alessio Romenzi/Save the Children
More than half of Syrian refugees are children, and many say they have no idea what has happened to siblings, parents and other close relatives left behind in Syria.
Some families were separated on the journey, while others decided to leave some relatives at home to protect their property. Children separated from relatives are much more vulnerable to the risks posed by the conflict.
“This terrible conflict is splitting families up as they try to reach safety, leaving children terrified for their relatives and more vulnerable in the situation that is already horrendously dangerous,” said Justin Forsyth, Save the Children’s chief executive.
“Those who reach the relative safety of surrounding countries are in many ways the lucky ones; we know there are likely to be thousands of children who have fled their homes within Syria who we cannot access.
"Their plight further underlines the need for full, unfettered humanitarian access to Syria,” he added.
Fierce fighting within the country continues to force desperate families from their homes, with more than 200,000 people displaced from Aleppo alone in recent days, according to latest UN figures.
Children arriving in neighbouring countries from Syria are frequently terrified by what they have seen and deeply anxious about the fate of those they have left behind.
Helping children recover
"Children crossing from Syria have been through terrible experiences. Save the Children is working to help them recover, setting up safe places to play, providing education to displaced children, distributing essential items, and making sure that families with babies and young children have the supplies they need," said Sophie Perreard, Save the Children’s programme director in Lebanon.
When displaced families separate, children are particularly vulnerable. Separated families often have no way of earning an income and arrive in a new country with nowhere to stay.
Some refugees are afraid to register with authorities, believing they will be targeted in the conflict, and therefore miss out on support that would otherwise be available to them.
Save the Children is working with Syrian refugees in Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq, where aid agencies have been overwhelmed by a huge influx of families looking for safety as the situation inside Syria continues to deteriorate.
Despite the conflict in Syria attracting the world’s attention, humanitarian agencies have just a third of money required to meet the needs of refugees in the region.
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