Meet the children of a war the world has forgotten.

Adama, a young Syrian refugee. (©UNICEF/NYHQ2013-0043/MARTA RAMONEDA)








Today marks two years since the civil war in Syria started.

Over one million people have been displaced. And half of those refugees are children.

The boy in the picture on the left is Adnan. Fifteen days before this photo was taken, Adnan had fled the Syrian city of Hama with his family, when shelling destroyed his home. He suffered severe burns during the attack, and almost two weeks later still had not received medical treatment — because his family could not afford it.

After the attack, Adnan and his family began sharing a tent with another refugee family in Lebanon. His mother gave birth to a baby girl in this tent, and they live there still. The family’s food supply is incredibly limited – and in the mornings they sometimes drink tea for sustenance, instead of eating.

The civil war began in Syria in 2011 but for many people, media coverage of this conflict has become background noise.

And the media are starting to walk away from the story – it’s more of the same, it’s no longer ‘news’, and it has just been going on for so long.

The war started after a group of 15 school children were arrested – and imprisoned – for writing anti-government graffiti. Initially, citizens began with peaceful protests calling for the kids’ release – but then the government responded by opening fire on the protestors, killing four people.

Conflict between government and rebel forces in Syria has continued ever since and the UN now estimates that more than 70,000 people have died in the conflict.

The effect of this civil war on children has been particularly devastating.

There have been two million children in Syria affected by the conflict.


The UN estimates that now 1 million people have fled Syria, to Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Turkey and even as far away as Egypt – and of these refugees, around half are children. Most of them are younger than 11-years-old.

These children are the innocent victims of war. And now that they have been driven away from their homes, they need shelter, clean water, medicine and food. Understandably, many of these children need trauma counselling.

Adnan – who I introduced to you at the outset of this post – has not spoken since the attack. He jumps with fright at the sound of cars.

In this video Syrian refugee children speak about their experiences.

A young girl in a pink jacket fondly remembers her life from before the war: “I remember everything. Everything was way better. More beautiful. Everything was nice. But then the war was happening in front of us. It wasn’t good anymore. We ran out of everything… and the cold weather started.”

It is gut wrenching to watch.

With over one million people having fled Syria, pressure has been put on the country’s neighbours – who are struggling to support the influx of refugees across the borders. ABC News reports:

Including Syrian workers and self-supporting Syrian families, one-in-five people in Lebanon are now Syrian.

Refugee flows into Lebanon have doubled to 4,400 a day in the past three weeks, UNHCR representative in Lebanon Ninette Kelley says.

But despite pledges of $1.5 billion by international donors for a UN response plan to help Syria’s displaced, only 25 per cent has been funded, UNHCR said.

In Jordan, energy, water, health and education services are being strained to the limit, the agency added. Turkey has spent more than $600 million setting up 17 refugee camps, with more under construction.

There is no end in sight for Syria’s civil war and international powers are divided over how to respond to it.

A still from the above video.

UNICEF is currently working on the ground to ensure that families are provided with blankets and warm clothes for the coming winter. The organisation is also vaccinating against life-threatening diseases and providing drinking water.

Your own children may also need help understanding the conflict – as they catch snippets of it on the nightly news.

It can be scary and worrying for kids to watch the TV and hear about war and starvation, when they don’t really understand what is happening. UNICEF has created this storybook that you can share with your children, to explain the conflict.

Because you see – war doesn’t make sense to kids.

Then again, a war like this seems senseless and horrific to us all.

You can learn more about the situation in Syria and donate to UNICEF’s Syria Crisis Appeal here