“We fled the flames of war, only to find ourselves surrounded by danger, explosions, kidnapping and theft”.
The words of a 15 year old Syrian refugee living in a filthy tented settlement in Lebanon. He is one of 5.5 million Syrian children caught up in suffering by this war. Over 1 million children are refugees, most of them living in extreme poverty, cold, hungry and without education.
That is the Syrian conflict for children. A generation who risk being lost and forgotten unless more is done to help bring this conflict to an end.
I’m travelling to Lebanon and Jordan over the next few days to meet some more of the children directly impacted by the Syrian crisis. I’ll be meeting families forced to flee their homes and now living in the Bekaa valley in Lebanon, taking refuge in tents or renting garages or sheds. I’ll also be spending time with children living in vast refugee camps in Jordan. I’ll be seeing the work which World Vision does to help – providing clean water, delivering education and creating safe spaces for children.
I’ll be there with Jim Murphy MP, Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for International Development, who wants to see and understand for himself the devastating impact of the Syrian conflict on children.
On 15 March, the world will mark the third anniversary of the Syrian conflict. Many of the most powerful people in the world will speak and highlight the plight of Syria – and rightly so.
But I think it’s the voices of children themselves which need to be heard. And now we have a new report by children - ‘Our Uncertain Future’.
In their own words, 140 children between the ages of 10 and 17 talk about what the conflict has meant for them. They talk about child marriage, lack of education and bullying as real concerns.
They also talk about the great generosity they have experienced in their communities and their hopes and fears for the future.
This is the Syrian conflict through the eyes of those most affected but least responsible. I’ll leave you with the words of Soha, aged 13, who spoke about the international efforts to bring peace to Syria:
“All the Geneva talks, all the different things... the international community is really not listening to us. If they would only listen to us, if they would only get somewhere, if they would only stop the war, the bombs, if they would only make our lives better, and help us to live in peace – that is all we ask”
I couldn’t have put it better myself.
The children’s report ‘Our Uncertain Future’ can be found at: http://www.wvi.org/syria-crisis/pressrelease/child-written-report-calls-international-pressure-end-conflict-syria