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Syria Civil War Refugees

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Four siblings stand at the door of their temporary shelter, surrounded by walls of concrete..
World Vision is responding to the needs of Syrian refugee families in Lebanon. We’re also operating Child-Friendly Spaces in several communities to provide a safe place for refugee children to play and learn. Photo: Patricia Mouamar/World Vision.
Updated September 3, 2015

The civil war in Syria is entering its fifth year, and more than 4.1 million refugees have fled to neighbouring countries.

Here’s some background on the growing humanitarian crisis and World Vision’s response to the needs of refugee children and their families.

How many people have fled their homes?
As of September 2015, about 7.6 million people had been displaced within Syria, and more than 4.1 million had fled to neighbouring countries.

Does the number of refugees show any sign of slowing?
No. Children and their families are fleeing Syria every day. Their first destinations are Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon and Iraq.

What are the refugees’ greatest needs?
Refugees lack adequate shelter, clean water, food, and hygiene items.

Most left their homes on short notice after facing shootings, bombings, and artillery fire. Often they arrive in the country of refuge with little more than the clothes they are wearing. Some have not even had a chance to grab their identity papers.

Where are the refugees living?
Where are the refugees living? Refugees have taken up residence in rental spaces, abandoned buildings, sheds, spare rooms, garages, informal tent settlements and in formal established refugee camps. Conditions are often crowded and unsanitary. Even so, families struggle to pay rent and meet their basic needs. In Jordan, approximately 80,000 refugees are living in Za’atari refugee camp, near the border with Syria, representing less than 15% of the total Syrian refugee population in the country.

What risks do children face?
Children are especially susceptible to malnutrition and poor health due to lack of food and poor sanitary conditions. Many suffer from diarrheal diseases and dehydration.

Children are also more vulnerable to sexual abuse and exploitation in unfamiliar and overcrowded conditions. Families face pressure to marry girls off early, in an effort to reduce family expenses and help prevent sexual abuse.

Many children lost their homes or witnessed violence and destruction. They continue to need food provisions, household supplies, education and psychosocial support to help them survive and cope with their unfamiliar circumstances.

What is the impact on refugee children’s education?
The burden of rent makes it difficult for parents to afford books, uniforms, and tuition fees for their children. In some cases, children are being required to give up school and start work to help provide for their families.

In Lebanon and Jordan, the government has opened public schools to Syrian children often creating a double shift to accommodate Syrian children, but language barriers, cost of transportation, and the incredible burden on the public education system keeps many refugee children out of school​

How is World Vision responding?
Thanks to the generous support of donors, more than 2 million people in Syria, northern Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon have been helped with crucial lifesaving aid, including food, health care, water and sanitary supplies, as well as protection and education for children affected by the conflict.


Learn more
Check out our coverage of the Syrian refugee crisis.

How you can help
1) Make a one-time gift to help Syrian children and families. Your donation will help us provide emergency cash to refugee families to help meet their basic food and household needs, healthcare, water and sanitation and support the protection and education of Syrian children.

You can also give monthly, by becoming a Raw Hope partner.​ You will help children living in the world's most dangerous places, such as Syria, South Sudan, Afghanistan and Somalia.​

2) World Vision has also joined forced with UNICEF, Save the Children and other organizations for the 'Stand with Me' campaign. We need to be champions for the children of Syria, to ensure they don't end up a lost generation. Join us today by sharing this page and other stories using the #childrenofsyria hashtag.

With reporting by Brian Jonson and Patricia Mouamar, World Vision Lebanon

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