The number of Syrian children refugees running from the war has reached a whopping one million, 740 000 of them are under the age of 11, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) said today.
“What is at stake is nothing less than the survival and wellbeing of a generation of innocents,” UNHCR boss António Guterres said in a statement from Geneva.
“The youth of Syria are losing their homes, their family members and their futures. Even after they have crossed a border to safety, they are traumatised, depressed and in need of a reason for hope.”
These children are scattered all over the Middle East, from Lebanon to Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt, and increasingly, other Syrians are fleeing to North Africa and Europe, the UN said.
“This one millionth child refugee is not just another number,” UNICEF executive director Anthony Lake said in a statement from New York. “This is a real child ripped from home, maybe even from a family, facing horrors we can only begin to comprehend.”
“We must all share the shame,” said Lake, “because while we work to alleviate the suffering of those affected by this crisis, the global community has failed in its responsibility to this child. We should stop and ask ourselves how, in all conscience, we can continue to fail the children of Syria.”
The war in Syria has intensified and is getting complex day by day with the involvement of dozens armed groups, allied either to the Syrian government or to the Syrian rebels.
Some armed radical groups are however said to be fighting independently – depending on their enemy.
The Syrian army has this week been accused of using chemical weapons in an attack that killed more than 1300 people in a township of the capital Damascus.
It is not known if the US, the EU and their allies of NATO will use force to chase Bashar al Assad from power – as they did in Libya – and therefore end what analysts have described as the biggest threat to world peace.
Photo: A Syrian girl shelters in the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan. Credit: UNHCR/O.Laban-Mattei