UNHCR: Syrian refugee children face uncertain future

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Syrian children outside their UNHCR tent at Jordan's Za'atri refugee camp. [Photo: UNHCR/M. Abu Asaker]

Syrian refugee children in Lebanon and Jordan face a bleak future with many being pushed into early employment to provide for their families or recruited into the ranks of armed groups, according to the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

A survey of Syrian refugee children in the two countries found many are suffering from psychological distress due to the effects of the war, are growing up in fractured families and missing out on education.

The survey says children as young as seven work long hours in fields, farms and shops for little or no pay, sometimes under dangerous or exploitative conditions.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres says immediate actions is needed to end the conflict in Syria, failure to which a generation of innocents will become lasting casualties of an appalling war.

Volker Turk is the Director of International Protection at UNHCR.

"The fact of displacement magnifies existing vulnerabilities. It’s clear that when it comes to children, the displacement hits children doubly hard, not just refugee children but, if one looks at some of the host communities, it is also important to bear in mind that it does start affecting the children of host communities. The idea of home and warmth is gone with a stroke through displacement. It will require massive effort of support for the host communities and for the host countries in order to ensure that the considerable burden that these countries face is actually eased."

UNHCR estimates that over 1.1 million Syrian refugee children are living in neighbouring countries.

Patrick Maigua, United Nations Radio, Geneva.

Duration 1:48″

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