The years-long civil war in Syria has caused over 5,000 child deaths, forced an estimated 1 million children to be born as refugees in neighboring countries, and catastrophically disrupted education in the country, UNICEF revealed in a recent press release.
From 2014, when UNICEF began monitoring the conflict, to 2019, UNICEF found that 5,427 children were killed, which equates to one death every 10 hours. An estimated 4.8 million children were born into war in Syria.
"As the conflict enters its 10th year, millions of children are entering their second decade of life surrounded by war, violence, death, and displacement," UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore said. "The need for peace has never been more pressing."
Nearly 5,000 children have been recruited into fighting, and 2 out of 5 schools have been rendered unusable because they have been attacked or are being used for humanitarian or military purposes.
Nearly 3 million children in Syria and neighboring countries are out of school.
Children who miss out on education are much more likely to experience forced labor, sex and slavery trafficking, child marriage, and recruitment into militias in the short term. In the long term, they are more likely to experience poverty, disease, and early mortality.
A report from Save the Children found high levels of emotional distress in Syrian children, including symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), such as bedwetting and involuntary urination, as well as cases of children who lost the ability to speak or developed speech impediments, and reports of children becoming more fearful or anxious as the war progressed.
The war has brought Syria "to the brink [of collapse]," according to Ted Chaiban, UNICEF regional director for UNICEF in the Middle East and North Africa.
"Families told us that in extreme cases they had no choice but to send their children to work or marry their girls early. No parent should be forced to make such decisions," he said.
The Syrian civil war is a complex conflict that began in 2011 when President Bashar al-Assad brutally cracked down on protests against his regime, and has spiraled into a conflict involving Russia, the United States, Iran, Turkey, as well as the Islamic State, according to Voice of America.
The conflict shows no signs of slowing down and, according to UN Special Envoy Geir Pederson, "unprecedented levels of diplomatic cooperation and fortitude" are needed to bring the conflict to an end.