UNHCR Says More than 1 Million Syrian Children are Refugees

    11 December, 2013


    From VOA Learning English, this is the Education Report.

    The United Nations is warning that Syrian children are suffering as a result of the country's nearly three year-long conflict. It says many children have developed emotional problems, are separated from their parents, and are not in school.

    The United Nations says more than 1 million Syrian children are registered with its refugee agency, the UNHCR. Most of them now live in Lebanon and Jordan. These boys and girls may have escaped from the fighting, but they continue to suffer the effects of war.

    UNHCR Says More than 1 Million Syrian Children are Refugees
    Syrian refugee children gather around fire near makeshift tents, central Ankara, Oct. 5, 2013.

    In a new report, the U.N. agency says 75 percent of the 1,100,000 children it has registered are Under the age of 12. The agency is urging international donors to increase financial support to refugee families. It says the money could in turn help displaced children.

    Brian Hansford is a spokesman for the UNHCR.

    "It illustrates the immense suffering — we are talking here of psychological distress, withdrawal, anger, loneliness, fractured families and widespread use of child refugees as labor," said Hansford.

    The U.N. report noted efforts to keep Syrian refugee children in school, but as of September, it said more than 100,000 of those in Jordan were not attending classes. And it said twice that number could be out of school in Lebanon by the end of the year.

    Disabled children are said to be having an even harder time. Many children, especially boys, are out of school because their families need them for work.

    Brian Hansford says the report found that 10 percent of Syrian refugee children in the area are working for a living, many work long hours in dangerous conditions.

    "One child interviewed, he was burned by hot oil in a restaurant, another cut his hand while fixing a car mirror, and a third was beaten by the son of his boss," Hansford said.

    Refugee babies are also at risk, often lacking necessary documents. That is because babies born in Syria are not registered if their families fled the country, or if they were born as refugees in Lebanon or Jordan.

    Mr Hansford said, the lack of birth certificate can create problems for these children later in life.

    "A birth certificate is a vital document to protect against risks such as statelessness. Without a birth certificate, people can have difficulties later enrolling in schools, or getting health care and other services," Hansford said.

    The report also found that many Syrian children are growing up without one or both parents. More than 70,000 Syrian refugee families live without fathers and nearly 4,000 refugee children are living without or are separated from both parents. The U.N. operates centers for these children in refugee camps, the centers provide social services while workers try to reunite the youngsters with relatives.

    And that's the Education Report From VOA Learning English, I'm Milagros Ardin.