Fear and uncertainty among Syrian refugee children in Lebanon is the focus of a new World Vision report called “Robbed of Childhood, Running from War” released Dec. 18 in Beirut.
More than 75,000 Syrian refugee children are in Lebanon, with the number expected to continue to rise.
The report is based on interviews with children in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley over recent weeks. In it, children speak movingly about what they have been through since the fighting in Syria began:
â— “I saw my cousin dying in front of me so I always see this scene in front of my eyes.” – Layla, age 8
â— “My three brothers died in Syria. They were younger than me. They shot my brothers when they were playing with their friends on the street.” Alaa, age 7
â— “I just want clothes. All mine were burned. I just have the ones I have on.” – Hala, age 12
â— “I want to go back to Syria to wear my new dress and play with my toy, even for one day. I can die the next day.” – Rama, age 7
“It’s heartbreaking to hear stories like this from children,” said Anita Delhaas-Van Dijk, World Vision Lebanon’s national director.
“Many children are living in dire circumstances, hunkering down against winter storms in plastic sheeting and broken building. But to them, returning home, going to school and feeling safe are just as important as food and shelter.”
With winter approaching, World Vision is aiming to reach more than 40,000 people in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley.
The organization has reopened its Child-Friendly Spaces, which provide children with a safe place to play, interact with other children and begin the long recovery process that is essential after the trauma they’ve been exposed to.
The report notes that many Syrian refugee children are essentially being denied an education in Lebanon, either because they cannot afford the fees or they are unable to cope with the language barrier between themselves and other children.
Some children are facing their second year out of school, posing real, long-term risks while others have been forced to work to help support their families.
“The longer a child is out of school, the more danger they are in as they fall behind, struggle to reintegrate and become more and more isolated,” Delhaas-Van Dijk said.
The report highlights the problems 75,000 Syrian refugee children in Lebanon face.
Many more children are expected to join them. With the future of their home country still uncertain, the organization is calling on governments and donors around the world to step up their efforts to help those in need.
“As time passes, and with so many children affected by ongoing uncertainty, many of these issues will become even more crucial to address,” said Delhaas-Van Dijk.
“We hope this report will help open people’s eyes to the problems faced by so many children, and the urgent need to address the refugee crisis in Lebanon.”
The report is available here.
This article appeared originally in The Baptist Times of Great Britain.