140 Syrian refugee children in Lebanon and Jordan worked together to create the report: Our Uncertain Future.
Many years from now, when we look back upon the Syrian conflict with collective sense of grief, it will be the children we will think of first.
As the violence enters its fourth year, an entire generation of children is suffering the brutal consequences of atrocities and global inaction.
In neighbouring countries, more than 1.2 million children are struggling to survive as refugees, navigating insecurity, social tensions and educational barriers as they try to remain strong for themselves, their friends and their families.
As a children’s agency, World Vision speaks often of the many issues affecting their young lives. We take these to the highest levels to try to advocate for peace, and to bring protection and aid.
I have met Syrian children in the tents, shelters and apartments they’ve been forced to call home. I’ve listened to their stories. Nobody can express the harshness of their daily lives, the precision of their memories or the innocence of their hopes and dreams like they can.
To mark three years of the conflict in Syria, we invited children living as refugees to write a report, to share, in their own words, their biggest concerns, and to propose solutions. Across Lebanon and Jordan, 140 children responded.
Enthusiastically they brainstormed, debated, interviewed their peers and collated and analysed results. They then elected a smaller group of writers to formalise their findings. Their words, aside from translation from Arabic into English, have not been altered.
What did the children say?
They live in fear of bullying and violence. They worry about early marriage, being swept into begging as a means of survival, and suffering poverty as a result of their parents’ joblessness. They feel they are a burden on their caregivers. They fear they are losing their futures.
Behind the violence and the politics, a generation of children is doing its best to grow, learn and develop in the midst of continued uncertainty. Soon these children will be adults, responsible for rebuilding the country they love. They’ll be asking us why we did not do more. With our No Lost Generation partners, World Vision is working to ensure that these children are educated and protected, but this will require a global effort, far bigger than us.
Three years since this conflict began, we remember the more than 10,000 children who’ve lost their lives in Syria. We stand with the millions who’ve been displaced. And we continue to call for a peaceful political solution to the conflict, so that never again will children need to plead with us for the protection afforded them under international law.
We’ve promised the intelligent, brave young people whose thoughts and feelings fill these pages that we will share their report far and wide; and we will. I implore all people, whether your influence is large or small, to pay attention. The children’s words, at times, are difficult to read. We can let them move us to tears, but they must also move us – all of us – to action.