Ten-year-old Rahma loves spending her time drawing. The walls of her room are plastered with her portraits of her friends and family.
Like other 10-year-olds, she loves going to school with friends, and she has big dreams for her future. She hopes to have her artwork displayed in an exhibit someday, and she wants to become a doctor and an artist later in life.
Rahma is also the same age as the 10-year war that drove her family to flee Syria in 2013.
Think back to when you were 10 years old. What was life like for you then? School, family, friends, hobbies? Probably not an entire lifetime defined by war and hearing stories of a homeland you can no longer remember, or even imagine.
Watch this video to hear from Rahma and other Syrian children:
Since the war in Syria began
, 4.8 million Syrian children have been born. And most of these children have only known a life of war since their birth.
- 55,000 children have been killed since the war began
- Syrian children’s life expectancy has decreased by 13 years since the war began.
- An estimated 40% of Syrian children below the age of 17 are living as registered refugees in neighbouring countries.
Even if the war stopped immediately, the loss of education and health access over the past 10 years seriously slowed down Syrian children’s opportunities for a healthy and safe future.
How COVID-19 made the war worse
Syrian children have been severely impacted by the secondary effects of COVID
, from the loss of access to education to escalating child abuse.
World Vision estimates that up to 85 million more children
will be victims of violence because of COVID-19 aftershocks. Child marriage rates are also expected to increase, with an estimated four million more girls being forced to wed. Due to increased financial insecurity, families have had to rely on children to help with basic necessities, with World Vision's latest study showing an increase of at least six per cent of child labour in the first months of the pandemic in Jordan.
In this tenth year of the war in Syria, the COVID-19 pandemic has delivered a crisis within a crisis for Syrian families who were already struggling to survive.
We must listen to children’s voices
There are no easy solutions to end the fighting in Syria.
But, to move towards a hopeful future, it’s clear that we must pay attention to the voices of children and youth.
In a new report,
we asked children and youth what they wanted, now and in the future, and listened to their suggestions and solutions for making their ambitions and dreams a reality once peace is achieved.
Theirs is a simple message:
“Let us play, learn, grow, re-build, and live in peace, by ending this war.”
They want change, and they need us – the global international community – to be the change.
You can start listening to the voices of Syrian children and youth such as Rahma through this brand-new podcast
, co-created by World Vision, Foreign Policy, and the Syrian American Medical Society
. The podcast is hosted by actor and activist Liam Cunningham.
Liam introduces us to Syrian children and youth and shares their challenges and hopes for the future.
Listen to the podcast trailer now:
What’s next after 10 years of war?
Ending the conflict is the only real hope for Syrian children impacted by 10 years of war. Even after the fighting ends, there’s a long road ahead in re-building a healthy and safe environment they can thrive in.
There are no quick fixes to 10 years of devastation, but every moment that goes by without a peaceful resolution means more children facing grave harm.
Any resolutions to this conflict must begin with listening to the needs those who will re-build the future of Syria: children and youth. All resources need to be made available to respond to what they need.
As members of the global community, we have the power to lift up the voices of Syrian children. You can do so in the following ways: