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Saving Syria And Its Children

Op-Ed Contributors

Published on 19 March 2014

Discover the World Of Judaica

by Anne C. Richard and Zeenat Rahman


London, England

On February 10, the children at a United Nations school in Muzeirib, Syria, were among an ever shrinking group of kids still able to attend school amid a conflict that has driven 3 million students away from classrooms. But then reality, in the form of an explosion, reportedly from an air-to-ground strike, ripped through the windows and changed their lives forever.

Forty school children were injured that day in an incident that garnered few headlines. Eight days later on, another explosion struck a school in Muzeirib, killing five school children and 13 adults, and maiming 20 more.

These incidents are only two examples in what has become an unremitting onslaught against a generation of Syrian children. As we commemorate the third anniversary of the Syria crisis on March 15, we urge you to join the movement to save Syria’s children and youth.

We have seen firsthand how this war has ravaged the lives of young Syrians. In a trip to Jordan in January, we met a father who broke down describing the loss of his 9-year-old son, a young girl who had lost use of her legs, and a young man who had lost his brother in a chemical attack. Many refugees had fled the shifting violence repeatedly, often having to leave family members behind in the process.

The numbers of children affected by the war can be hard to conceptualize. Some 3 million of Syria’s children are out of school. More than 10,000 kids killed. Of the more than 2.5 million Syrian refugees, half are children. Imagine cities of children and their families needing food, shelter, warmth, and attention to their mental and physical wounds — not to mention getting back to school.

If the shocking scope of this tragedy is not enough, here are several other reasons to become part of the movement to save Syria’s children and help get assistance to those in need:

1. Within Syria, international assistance is keeping millions of people alive, delivering food and water, operating schools, and providing medical care.

2. International aid helps the countries neighboring Syria that are generously hosting millions of refugees. These countries need our help to ensure there are enough hospital beds and school desks to support the large number of refugees.

3. Syria’s children and youth — the country’s future leaders — cannot afford to be overlooked and left behind.

This is why the Department of State and USAID have joined aid agencies and international organizations like UNICEF and UNHCR to raise awareness about the impacts of the Syria crisis on children and youth through the No Lost Generation initiative.

It is also why we are urging you to spend a few moments today to become a champion of Syria’s children by visiting championthechildrenofsyria.org or following #ChildrenofSyria on Twitter.

As the largest single donor nation to the Syria crisis, the United States has provided more than $1.7 billion in humanitarian assistance to support critical humanitarian efforts since the start of the crisis. This is in addition to the millions in U.S. bilateral assistance to support communities hosting refugees in Lebanon and Jordan.

But much more should be done. Citizens and governments around the world need to become more engaged, by speaking up for peace and by supporting reputable aid organizations.

It is not too late to make a difference. All of us can be a part of the movement to help realize these hopes. Why not you?


This essay by Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration Anne C. Richard and Special Adviser on Global Youth Issues Zeenat Rahman was originally published on the State Department’s Dipnote blog on March 14.


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Posted 2014-03-19 10:14:00