UNICEF: Syria conflict leaves invisible scars on children

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Children form a line outside the school at Za’atari camp in northern Jordan. [Photo: UNICEF/Simon Ingram]

Prolonged exposure to violence and stress, multiple displacement, loss of friends and family members, and a severe deterioration in living conditions are leaving the children of Syria with lasting scars, according to the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF).

The agency says parents are reporting that their children are experiencing frequent nightmares and exhibiting reckless and aggressive behaviours.

Their drawings are often violent and angry with images of bloodshed, explosions and destruction.

UNICEF estimates that more than 4 million Syrian children are affected by the ongoing conflict.

Marixie Mercado is UNICEF's spokesperson in Geneva.

"Children who have undergone profound stress can lose the ability to connect emotionally to others and to themselves. Basic feelings can stop and children find themselves unable to think ahead or remember recent events." the way children describe what is happening inside Syria now is changing. They speak about a different kind of war they speak about different weapons but without a true understanding of what they are saying. It shows that the adults and elders that children listen to are so profoundly stressed themselves, and have been for such a long time, that they are no longer able to monitor what they say in front of children. Together with partners, UNICEF has reached about 470,000 children in Syria and in the neighbouring countries with psychosocial support. This is intended to provide children with a sense of security, opportunity to express themselves and help them develop constructive modes of dealing with the stresses of the conflict. This is done through hundreds of child friendly learning spaces and alternative learning sites inside Syria and in neighouring countries."

UNICEF has appealed for $470 million to provide humanitarian assistance and protection activities to Syrian children displaced by the on going conflict.

Patrick Maigua, United Nations Radio, Geneva.

Duration 1:48″

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