Children struggle on as world leaders are urged to end three-year Syria conflict

Huda with her sisters at Lebanon settlement Picture: ©UNICEF/Lebanon-2013/Noorani

As the world debates how to bring an end to three years of war and bloodshed in Syria, children and young adults at the heart of the horror try to get on with their lives.

In a tent in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley, refugee Huda revealerd how her family fled Syria a year ago just as she was taking exames for her high school degree.

The teenager told the #childrenofsyria website how her house was bombed. She added: “I am now a refugee. The noise, the people, the tent, you have to adapt and for now I have to forget my previous life.”

Now Huda has to work to help her family. But she is also volunteering to help young children get an informal education at the settlement.

She said: “They talk to you with such optimism. When I see them, I think, if they can be this positive, why I can’t I?”

Inside Syria, more than four million children live in poverty, displacement or under fire, according to UNICEF.

One of them is 10-year-old Aya, who lives with her family in a UNICEF-supported shelter in Homs. She goes to school but it is crowded and she hopes she will not be there too long.

Aya at UNICEF-supported shelter in Homs Picture: ©UNICEF/Syria-2013/Youngmeyer

Aya told the #childrenofsyria website: “We are OK here, but when everything settles down we want to return home.”

A UNICEF report revealed that 5.5 million Syrian children are paying the price for war – double the number from a year ago. More than one million are now refugees and two million are in need of psychological support or treatment.

As the third anniversary of the Syria conflict loomed, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for renewed political efforts to end the massive humanitarian and security crisis.

In a statement, he said: “Syria is now the biggest humanitarian and peace and security crisis facing the world, with violence reaching unthinkable levels.” He urged everyone “to reflect upon the long and growing list of horrors taking place in Syria every day”.

Leading members of the European Parliament showed their support for the children of Syria on March 12 by joining No Lost Generation, the global initative to mark the third anniversary of the conflict.

Vice-President Roberta Angelilli said: “Children must never be targeted or recruited to take any part in the conflict.

“Protecting children, their schools, playgrounds and health centres is an obligation for all parties to the conflict.”