Middle East

Thursday 31 July 2014

Syria's orphans battling to survive

Ruth Sherlock Beirut

Published 29/11/2013|22:21

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A youth collects wood to be used for heating purposes in the besieged area of Homs November 26, 2013
A youth collects wood to be used for heating purposes in the besieged area of Homs November 26, 2013

THOUSANDS of children have been forced to survive alone as refugees, after being orphaned or separated from their parents in the Syrian conflict, the UN said.

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Refugee agency UNHCR has found that in Lebanon and Jordan alone more than 70,000 Syrian refugee children are living without their fathers.

A further 3,700 children have had both their parents killed or imprisoned, or have been separated from them as they fled the fighting.

Angelina Jolie, UNHCR Special Envoy, called on the two neighbouring countries and the international community to ease border restrictions and increase support for children whose lives have been blighted by almost three years of civil war.

"The world must act to save a generation of traumatised, isolated and suffering Syrian children from catastrophe," she said.

OVERCROWDED

In the first in-depth survey of Syrian children by UNHCR since the start of the war, the 62-page report, 'The Future of Syria -- Refugee Children in Crisis', details how the war is separating children from their families, leaving them traumatised, and depriving a generation of Syrians the chance of an education.

By the end of September, UNHCR had registered 2,440 unaccompanied boys and girls in Lebanon and 1,320 children in Jordan.

The refugee agency said that it had managed to find host families for almost a third of these children, but many continued to live in appalling, overcrowded conditions. Many of the young refugees have become the main breadwinners for their families and so child labour has reached "critical levels".

UNICEF estimates that one in 10 Syrian refugee children is engaged in child labour. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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