By Vatican News staff reporter
It’s been ten years since nationwide protests descended into an all-out conflict in Syria, which has killed hundreds of thousands of people, and displaced millions of children and their families.
But what is the future for those children who have been uprooted from their homes in the last decade?
According to a new report issued on Tuesday by the charity Save the Children, “the vast majority of Syria’s children cannot imagine a future in their country.”
No wish to return
The findings show that 86% of Syrian refugee children surveyed in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and the Netherlands said they would not want to return to their country of origin.
In the report entitled Anywhere but Syria, of the children displaced inside the country, “one in three would rather be living in another country.”
However, although many of these children don’t want to return home, they are now struggling to feel safe in the countries they fled to. The report highlights around two in five of those surveyed said they “face discrimination and a lack of education.” In another distressing response, many feel they have no say over their future.
Nada, 17, was born in Syria with a disability that affects her nervous system. She currently lives in Akkar, in northern Lebanon.
She told Save the Children that her dream is to become a doctor, but she lacks the education. “There’s no safety, I can’t even go to school. My dream is to go to school and be just like my siblings," she said.
Living in poverty
The findings reveal that even before the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, 80% of people in Syria had been living below the international poverty line.
Unfortunately, these stories of hardship are not unique to Syria. In Lebanon, a country which has been grappling with an economic crisis, political instability, Covid-19 outbreaks, and the impact of last year’s explosion in Beirut — “nine out of ten Syrian refugee families are living in extreme poverty, according to the UN."
However, by contrast, the report shows that in the Netherlands, “70% of Syrian children saw a positive future, and all children surveyed received an education.”
As Syria passes this grim milestone of conflict and suffering, Save the Children “is calling on all stakeholders to protect Syria’s children from the physical and psychological violence that has been plaguing their lives for the last 10 years.”
The charity adds that “Syrian children have a right to grow up in an environment where they are free from constant fear for their safety, are not forced to live in displacement and fear of further uprooting, and are no longer discriminated against simply because of where they come from."