Five years on, 1 in 3 Syrian children has known only war

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Syrian children shelter in the doorway of a house, amid gunfire and shelling, in a city affected by the conflict. Photo: UNICEF/NYHQ2012-0218/Alessio Romenzi

Five years into the civil conflict Syria, one in three children there has known only war, according to the UN Children's Fund.

That's around 3.7 million children whose lives have been shaped by violence, fear and displacement.

Around 250,000 people have been killed and some 13.5 million inside the country need relief assistance.

Jocelyne Sambira has more.

Five years into the war in Syria, millions of children have grown up too fast and way ahead of time, says Dr Peter Salama, UNICEF's Regional Director for the Middle East and Africa.

As the war continues, children are fighting an adult war, they are dropping out of school and many are forced into labour while girls are marrying early, he warns.

UNICEF found that most of the children recruited by armed forces and groups were boys between 15 and 17 years old.

Since 2014, all parties to the conflict have recruited children at much younger ages – some as young as seven and often without parental consent.

Furthermore, nearly 7 million children are living in poverty, making their childhood one of "loss and deprivation."

However, it's not too late for Syria's children, adds Dr Salama, pointing to a UNICEF project to get kids back in school called "No Lost Generation Initiative."

The agency is asking for a little over a billion dollars from the global community to give children learning opportunities.

Jocelyne Sambira, United Nations.

Duration: 1'03''

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