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Syria: Three million tragic stories. When will it end?

Hanein*, 9 years old, in Save the Children’s Child Friendly Space in north Lebanon. (Ahmad Baroudi/ Save the Children)

By Misty Buswell, Director of Advocacy, Media & Communications, Middle East and Eurasia Regional Office, Jordan

29 August 2014 marks another terrible milestone in the Syria crisis: the three millionth registered refugee.

The war is more than three years old. At least 191,000 have died and nearly 11 million are in need of humanitarian aid inside Syria.

Meanwhile, three million, including more than 1.5 million children, have now fled a country in chaos. And those are only the ones who are officially registered.

There are undoubtedly many more who are either unable to register or choose not to out of concern for their own safety.

 

So many children whose lives are in chaos…

Children like Rana*, whom I met on one of my first visits to a Save the Children Child Friendly Space in Jordan.

We tossed a ball together but she didn’t say a word to me. I thought she was just shy, but I was told that Rana hadn’t spoken in months, since her family and home were attacked and they fled Syria.

What she had been through had so traumatised her that she couldn’t bring herself to speak. I’ll never forget her smile and how it lit up her face.

Children like Mais*, a 9-year-old girl in one of our education programmes in Egypt, who recited a poem she had written about her pain over seeing her homeland devastated and having to leave it, and how she had no hope for her future until she started coming to our education classes.

Children like Marwan*, who fled the conflict with his family and now lives in an overcrowded garage in Lebanon. Despite the tough conditions he said it is still better than in Syria, as he no longer fears every night that he will die.

 

Traumatised children across the region

I have met countless other children over the last 3 years who have suffered as a result of this conflict: children who continue to have nightmares years after leaving Syria, children too scared to go to school even after reaching the safety of a neighboring country because they saw their school in Syria attacked, children whose predominant playground game is now war.

And these are the ones who have managed to escape.

Over 5 million children inside Syria continue to face the horrors of conflict on a daily basis. A whole generation of Syrian children has had their innocence ripped from them.

 

Never give up

The conflict in Syria may seem hopeless, but when I visit our programmes and see children re-learning to play and smile despite the horrors that they’ve been through, I know that they haven’t given up hope, and neither can we.

As we reach this grim marker, we must not forget the children of Syria who are paying the highest price for the international community’s failure to protect them.

It is long past time for us all to stand up for this conflict’s youngest victims and let them know that the world remembers their plight.

Save the Children is providing shelter support, education spaces, safe places for children to play and learn, health and nutrition services, food distribution and improved water and sanitation conditions in Iraq, Egypt, Lebanon and Jordan.

To date we have provided assistance to more than 950,000 Syrian refugees in the region, including over 600,000 children.

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