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Child Refugee Crisis

by Save the Children Federation
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Child Refugee Crisis
Child Refugee Crisis
Child Refugee Crisis
Child Refugee Crisis
Child Refugee Crisis
Child Refugee Crisis
Child Refugee Crisis
Child Refugee Crisis
Child Refugee Crisis
Child Refugee Crisis
Child Refugee Crisis
Children at one of the Syrian refugee settlements
Children at one of the Syrian refugee settlements

Save the Children is in Bekaa, Lebanon working with children to provide them with opportunities to continue learning. The majority of the children we work with are Syrian refugees who have overcome tremendous challenges and continue to face stigma, severe poverty, and now a pandemic. Thanks to your support, children – many who are out of school – have gained access they would not otherwise have had to books and reading activities.

More than eight years of civil war has displaced millions of Syrians across the Middle East and beyond. Approximately 1-1.5 million Syrians have sought protection in Lebanon, and account for one out of every four residents — making the country host to the largest per capita population of refugees in the world. About half of all registered Syrian refugees living in Lebanon are children. Most refugees have settled near the Syrian border in the impoverished areas of the Bekaa Valley and northern Lebanon, leaving displaced children with acute needs for basic services, including access to education. Sadly in Lebanon, more than half of all refugee children, ages 3-18, are not in school – many of whom have never attended school or have had their education interrupted for months, if not years.

Mobile Book Library for Syrian Children in Lebanon

Despite efforts by the Lebanese government to broaden access to the public education system by holding double shifts – two shifts of students attending class each day to compensate for over-enrollment – the government lacks the capacity to support enrollment of all school-age refugee children. However, thanks to your generosity, a new mobile library van has been engaging children on reading and fun recreational activities.

From May 2019 until March 2020, the mobile library visited informal settlements in Bekaa and Arsal, impoverished border towns where many Syrian families live. With every stop, the library brought books and play materials – such as crayons, coloring books and LEGOs – to nourish young minds and instill a life-long love of reading, and to provide an opportunity to creatively express themselves. The mobile library also offered a child-friendly space where children received social and emotional support to help them cope with the traumatic experiences some have encountered due to displacement. The child-friendly space is set up in coordination with the “Chawich” (i.e., the person who is in charge of the informal tented settlements), in order to identify the safest spot to place the portable tent, furnished with carpet and colorful chairs. After furnishing the tent, we distributed play materials and set up a sound system to play music for children while they were drawing, coloring, or with which to sing along. By the end of the visit, refreshments were distributed to all the children. When the children told us about other camps/locations where children had no educational support, we updated our visit schedule to include those locations. Between May 23, 2019 and March 6, 2020, we conducted 204 community visits to informal settlements in Bekaa and Arsal, reaching 3,078 vulnerable children (1,459 girls, 1,619 boys) in impoverished border towns where many Syrians live.

During our last visit to Al Marj camp, an 11-year-old child said, “I created a game and I called it ‘mobile library,’ where I gather all my relatives outside and read for them a story as we always do during our activity with you, and this is really awesome.” Another child said, “I never thought that stories could be that joyful.” 

Both parents and children really appreciated the support they received – as one parent in Arsal settlement explained: “My children get ready at 6:00 am on the day that the mobile library visits our camp. This is the first time I see this happiness and excitement in their eyes.” Thank you!

During this project we also raised awareness among caregivers regarding available services in Bekaa. We recommended where to seek support and which service provider to contact for access to health, and livelihoods assistance or attain clean water, and sanitation for their family. Specifically for education, we conducted awareness sessions for the out-of-school children and their families, guiding them to the programs available in their areas based on the age range of the children and explaining how they can enroll their children in these programs. In some cases, lists of children were shared with NGOs in specific locations to contact children and enroll them in other programs. During the mobile library activities, child protection concerns were also identified and referred to Save the Children protection teams, who followed up on the cases or referred them to other NGOs as necessary.

Looking Ahead

The COVID-19 pandemic has limited the implementation of our activities; however we know that as soon as it is safe to do so, continuing with the mobile library activities will be crucial in Bekaa, given that children will have had little to no educational engagement for several months. Therefore, beginning in the summer and throughout the scholastic year 2020-2021, we will prioritize engaging children through the mobile library as one way to target the huge learning gap that has resulted, as well as to prime children to be ready to return to traditional learning. We also aim to provide school-age children with basic literacy and numeracy learning sessions in August and September to help children catch-up.

Thank you so much for your support that allows projects like these to help vulnerable children! 

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Hayat*, 10, fled Ma'arat Nu'man with her family
Hayat*, 10, fled Ma'arat Nu'man with her family

Northwest Syria: Thousands of Displaced Children Forced to Flee Their Homes Again as Violence Escalates in Idlib and Aleppo:

As a new wave of violence hits Idlib and Western Aleppo, Save the Children confirms that as many as 200,000 children and their families have been forced to abandon their homes in northern Syria over the last two months.

According to the United Nations, 34 children—14 girls and 20 boys—have died in the escalating violence since January 15, 2020. Throughout January, at least 37,000 children have been forced to flee in the bitter Syrian winter, often taking only what they are able to carry. Save the Children’s partners on the ground in Idlib say the number of people they are seeing desperately fleeing may be far higher than official estimates. Most of the families have already had to leave their homes many times before. They face new risks each time and each new displacement heightens existing vulnerabilities such as medical conditions.

Ten-year-old Hayat* fled the city of Ma'arat Nu'man after increasing violence and is now living in a tent in a playground used as a collective shelter in Idlib. She said: “They were hitting the houses, we were scared. They hit the market. We fled here and the people welcomed us into their homes.”

Hayat’s* neighbor from Ma'rat Nu'man, Karim,* also fled with the family. He told Save the Children: “We were at our worst during our journey. We left all our things behind, we left with only the clothes we had on. No one was taking us with them, until God sent us good people who took us from one place to another, until we finally got here. We were sitting down then saw an airstrike approaching and fell right by this camp we’re staying in, it was around 200 meters away from us. The situation here is bad, there are no services, it’s cold and the rain is flooding the tents. The children are cold and there’s no heating, there’s no support at all.”

Children in northwest Syria are continuing to bear the brunt of conflict. In July 2019, more children were killed in Idlib than in the whole of 2018.

“The number of families in Idlib and Aleppo fleeing once again for their lives is enormous,” said Sonia Khush, Save the Children Syria response director. “We are seeing miles of convoys with vehicles stretching out of vision as people again pack up what little they can and hope that they can travel to a place of safety. Our partners tell us that the sheer scale of displacement is unlike anything they have seen before.”

Save the Children is working through partners in Idlib who are assisting with the evacuation of people from areas of conflict using the limited means available, including mobile library vehicles. Save the Children and its partners are responding to the needs of displaced children and their families by providing medical assistance, food, education and child protection services.  Newly-displaced families living in communities are also being supported with hygiene and food kits.

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Our Response to date
Our Response to date

Emergency Alert: 

Families and children in North East Syria are fleeing for their lives. Military operations in the area threaten the safety and livelihood of nearly 90,000 already-displaced citizens who rely exclusively on humanitarian aid.

Save the Children’s teams in Syria are working across three displacement camps, preparing to scale up to meet the increased needs of vulnerable children. Urgent support is needed to help this impending humanitarian disaster.  

The conflict in Syria has devastated the lives of a generation of young people. Many of Syria’s children have missed years of their education, with 2.1 million children in Syria currently out of school. After more than eight years of war, it’s more important than ever that we show the children of Syria they are not forgotten. For the 6.2 million people currently internally displaced in Syria and the 5.6 million Syrian refugees with no place to call home, we must continue fighting for a future we all share.

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Hasina a 13 year old Rohingya refugee
Hasina a 13 year old Rohingya refugee

Hasina lives in the Rohingya refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh with her parents and younger brother. Since arriving in the refugee camps, Hasina has embraced the opportunity to learn and loves attending a Save the Children learning centre.

She says “I wake up very early in the morning and wash my feet and hands. I pray and then go to the Maktab (Islamic school) to learn Arabic. After Arabic learning, I come home and help my mother to prepare breakfast. I eat lentils for breakfast which I dislike very much. I wish we had better food to eat. Back in my village, we had all sorts of food which I very much liked. Sometimes I still feel hungry after eating breakfast, but I cannot ask for any extra as our food has to feed all the family for the month. I then walk with my friend to handicraft learning run by a women’s group in the camps. I have learnt how to sew a leaf and am learning to sew clothes. I hope to be as good at handicrafts as my mother. I really enjoy attending the handi-crafts group and have made good friends. We speak about lots of things at the community group and I enjoy it as girls from different ages go there. We stay there from 9-2pm. Most of the time we talk about our happy time in Myanmar and how our lives were good there in the past. I miss my home so much.

After lunch, I go to the Save the Children learning centre. It is located right next to my home and I meet my brother, who attend the shift before me. The teachers at the learning are very nice. I like all subjects but English is my favorite. It is an important language to learn because we do not have access to other languages. If I want to get a job in the future, it is important to be able to speak good English.

I am happiest when I am at the learning centre. I have so many friends there and I enjoy learning new things. Save the Children staff are very good to us, they do not beat us or yell at us. I have learnt from going to school to stay happy and if you face anything bad, talk to Save the Children.”

Hasina’s father Mohammed is happy that his daughter is learning other things apart from handicrafts. He is happy that Hasina will be able to be strong and to stick up for herself if she faces any issues.

Save the Children is one of the leading International NGOs in Cox’s Bazar, having reached more than 700,000 Rohingya and members of the host community since the start of the crisis. Save the Children has more than 1,800 staff and volunteers supporting our programs in child protection, access to education, health and nutrition, water and sanitation services, as well as distribution of shelter and food items.

Thanks to supporters like you we are running nearly 100 learning centres for Rohingya children like Hasina in the camps, reaching over 15,000 children.

Hasina goes to a Save the Children learning center
Hasina goes to a Save the Children learning center
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Sara’s story in her own words:

“I am fourteen years old and from Deir Ezzor. I now live in the camp with my parents, four brothers and baby sister.

One evening two years ago, I was watching television with my family when my street was bombed and parts of my house collapsed around us. When we went outside to see the damage, I got chemical dust in my eyes and was in great pain. My eyes were burning and I couldn’t see anything. I didn’t know how I could get out safely when I couldn’t see, but my older brother led me out by holding my hands. I thought the blast had hurt my brother too but thankfully he was unharmed.

After we escaped our house, we sheltered in the alley way just behind it. We could hear that the airplanes were still flying around so we waited until it was quiet. When we returned to our home, my family told me that the whole house had been flattened. I was so sad when I knew that our home was destroyed.

We fled in the car in the night and had to make a river crossing, which was really scary. We couldn’t take much with us, so I had to leave most of my belongings behind. I miss many things from my home - my toys, my family photos. After we arrived at this camp, I had to close my eyes for a whole month. I couldn’t see an eye doctor to get specialist care, and I still can’t see very far in the distance two years later.

Before the war, my life was very, very beautiful. I was happy with my family and my friends. I am not so happy anymore. My life and the war are one now. I hear warplanes and missiles falling all the time. Whenever I hear a plane in the sky I still get so scared.

But I love coming to the Child Friendly Space so much and I love that my parents let me come. It makes me feel less scared and alone. When I first came to this camp, I felt very lonely and like I didn’t have any friends. I thought there wouldn’t be anyone to play with. But now I have lots of friends and a football team! I love football so much, not just a little bit! I play goalkeeper and my team always beats the boys’ team because I save all the goals. It makes me so happy to play with my friends here. I think the Child Friendly Space is important as it makes me feel like I have a future and I have friends. In the future I want to be a teacher.

I loved taking part in the survey and I think it’s important to ask children about our lives. It’s hard to imagine the future of my country at the moment – how can we rebuild Syria when we don’t even have a house? In the future, I want to help my family and rebuild our home. I would tell the world’s children not to go too far from your families and don’t play with anything dangerous.”


Save the Children supports displaced children and their families living in camps across northeast Syria, as well as host communities, with Child Protection, Nutrition, Health, Education and emergency relief. We run Child Friendly Spaces, provide psychosocial support and carry out Case Management for the most vulnerable children. We screen young children for acute malnutrition, and support pregnant and breastfeeding women through group and one-to-one counselling sessions. We also help children continue their education by setting up temporary learning spaces and distributing essential school supplies.


Thank you for your continued support!

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Organization Information

Save the Children Federation

Location: Fairfield, CT - USA
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @savethechildren
Project Leader:
Matilda Story
Fairfield, CT United States
$91,252 raised of $100,000 goal
1,459 donations
$8,748 to go
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