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

For children in Syria who were struggling before this COVID-19 pandemic, things have only gotten worse. After ten years of conflict and displacement, 4.6 million children in Syria are now battling soaring malnutrition rates.

As the pandemic continues, Syrian refugee families will be pushed even further into poverty and child labor will increase. Even before the pandemic, prolonged exposure to war, stress and uncertainty left many children in a state of "toxic stress." Now, it's estimated that 2.1 million Syrian children are out of school.

Thanks to people like you, our work for the children of Syria is making a difference. Your support is reaching the most vulnerable children in Syria and in the refugee hosting countries. Inside Syria, you have supported over 3 million people, including 2.1 million children since the start of the crisis.

Our humanitarian teams and partners in Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Iraq and Turkey are also present in camps and host communities, providing Syrian refugees and vulnerable children from these host communities with food, shelter, water and sanitary services, and access to medical care, education and child protection.

  • Protected 32,239 children from harm
  • Supported 78,708 children in times of crisis
  • Provided 169,633 children with a healthy start in life
  • Gave 5,052 children vital nourishment

See the attached timeline to see how Save the Children has been responding to the crisis in Syria for the last 10 years. Thank you for your support.

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Razan, 8 years old after an airstrike in Yemen
Razan, 8 years old after an airstrike in Yemen

Eight-year-old Razan* (name changed for her safety) seriously injured her eye while fleeing violence in Hodeidah, Yemen in July 2018.  She was riding with her father, Samir,  on a motorcycle when an airstrike hit another vehicle on the same street. A piece of shrapnel from the blast hit Razan in her eye, and immediately caused heavy bleeding and intense pain. As the heavy shelling continued, Samir was forced to continue their journey for safety, and only had time to wrap a shawl around her head.

 After an hour they arrived in Almrawah district and Razan’s eye was still bleeding heavily. Samir took her to a nearby hospital to try and stop the bleeding and treat her eye, but the hospital wasn’t specialized enough to help. They advised Samir to take her to a specialist eye hospital, but the family couldn’t afford the bus-fare.

Razan spent five days at home in intense pain, while her eye became more inflamed. Her condition kept deteriorating and she could no longer see through her injured eye. Finally, Samir found someone who could lend him enough money for the transport costs to hospital, and he rushed her there immediately. When they arrived, they met a member of Save the Children Team, who referred Razan for emergency surgery. After her surgery, Save the Children then referred Razan to a hospital in Sana’a for surgery and later for specialist treatment.

After two long surgeries, Razan’s eyesight was saved.  About a year after her operation Razan started getting constant headaches, so she was referred again to a specialist who recommended she get special glasses. Save the Children paid for the glasses and psychosocial support to help Razan recover from what she has been through. In 2020 during a check in Razan reported that she was feeling much better, and the glasses were very helpful. Her headaches has stopped ad she has started going to school again. 

Thanks to supporters like you, Save the Children is able to support the recovery of children like Razan, caught in conflicts they had no part in starting.  Thank you for your support! 

Razan, a year later in recovery
Razan, a year later in recovery
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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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Organization Information

Save the Children Federation

Location: Fairfield, CT - USA
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @savethechildren
Project Leader:
Matilda Story
Fairfield, CT United States
$99,744 raised of $110,000 goal
1,588 donations
$10,256 to go
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