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Syrian crisis worsens: 210,000 dead

14 May 20150 comments
Syrian refugee child Source: UNICEF

Syrian refugee child
Source: UNICEF

The Syrian crisis continues to spiral out of control with 210,000 dead and over 52 per cent of the Syrian population displaced.

The Syrian Civil War, which began four years ago, has devastated not only its own country but has also hugely impacted the surrounding countries.

Those that have been forced to flee come from Assad and the Islamic State group, the majority of them making their way to the neighbouring countries of Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon.

Women and children are especially experiencing the greatest impacts, with aid organisations finding that female-headed households are the most vulnerable.

Officially there are 625,000 registered refuges in Jordan but combined with the number of those unregistered, officials believe it may now sit at 1.1 million. Of these, thirty-six per cent are in female-headed households, and 50 per cent are under 18.

As a result of parents being unable to legally work and provide for their families, child marriage has been on the rise. While the legal age of marriage in Jordan is 18, there is no such law in Syria.

Parents are marrying their girls off as young as 10 because they feel they can’t care for them. According to CARE‘s Jordan country director, Salam Kanaan, 25 per cent of Syrian refugee marriages in Jordan are of girls aged 13 to 16.

Syrian refugees in both Jordan and Turkey predominately live in urban areas. In Turkey, 220,000 are in camps but it’s likely the number of refugees actually living in the country is close to 1.6 million. Around 75 per cent of these are women and children under 18.

Turkey researcher for Amnesty International, Andrew Gardner, says a large number of Syrian children living in Turkey have been forced to work as they can obtain low-paying jobs unavailable to adults.

Those that work do so informally, which results in the majority of them experiencing abuse, exploitation and having payment withheld.

Working also keeps them out of school, with less than 10 per cent of Syrian refugee children in Turkey actually accessing education, says Gardner.

Similarly, over two-thirds of school aged refugees in Lebanon aren’t accessing education either because they can’t afford the schools fees or need to work in order to help their families survive.

These children that are missing out on an education are meant to be the future doctors, lawyers and leaders of Syria. A whole generation of children growing up uneducated will have huge impacts on the future of Syria.

The strain on education, infrastructure and health services is also impacting citizens, forcing poorer Lebanese to suffer with refugees. Currently there are over 1 million refugees in Lebanon, a huge number considering before the conflict the country’s population was 4.5 million.

There has been a huge call out from aids organisations for countries internationally to take in refugees, though the response has been underwhelming. Most of the richest countries in the world have refused to let in a single Syrian refugee.

Many countries that have taken on a large refugee population recently restricted entries or closed their borders all together in order to deal with their already overwhelming population as well as keep out terrorists.

The result of these restrictions and closures means that Syrians attempting to escape from the devastation can’t leave.

Anne Claire Richard, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees and Migration, asks these countries to reconsider.

“What we have told countries is they should absolutely take steps to protect their borders and to keep out any kind of flow of foreign fighters or would-be terrorists, but that we also would like them to let bona fide refugees, legitimate refugees, especially the most vulnerable people [like] families, women children, the elderly to get across,” says Ms Richard.

The U.S. has recently started accepting Syrian refuges, with 587 already having arrived, and Richard says up to 2000 more will come by August. So far the U.S. has provided $3.2 billion in humanitarian assistance but Syrians and aid organisation say countries internationally are failing them.


Ruby Brown
AMES Staff Writer