Nine years on, remembering the children of Syria’s forgotten war

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  • Today marks the ninth anniversary of the Syrian conflict - and five million children still need aid

    In 2011, a revolt against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s rule degenerated into a civil war. Today, nine years have passed since the conflict in Syria began, but the death and destruction is far from over.

    While millions of Syrians have sought safety in neighbouring countries, or made the perilous crossing over the Mediterranean in search of refuge in Europe, the anniversary today – March 15 – reminds us about this forgotten war.

    Some 600,000 children have been displaced just in the past three months, and the UN children’s fund UNICEF has said that sending humanitarian aid across Syria’s border has been a lifeline for vulnerable families in the northwest.

    UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore said in a statement published on March 7, ‘Nine years since the conflict started, 5 million children still need aid. We must help them at all costs. We are deeply grateful to our local partners on the ground for their heroic work – sometimes despite the personal toll on them and their families.’

    Siba, 18, is a Syrian refugee living in Za’atari Refugee Camp, and a member of the Humanitarian Changemaker training programme, which launched in July 2018. It aims to encourage 200 youths, aged between 18 and 24 from Azraq and Za’atari Refugee Camps, to develop a special venture idea for a challenge they encounter in their community.

    Silba told Marie Claire about the problem important to her to fix – ending child marriage. ‘In our community, the problem of early marriage is common – inside and outside camps. We are working with UNICEF on the issue of early marriage and would like to develop it further,’ she explained.

    ‘We are planning a theatre full of people to do sketches and plays to show people the dangers of this issue. I do not think that early marriage has any advantages,’ she added.

    Over the past few weeks, much of the world’s focus has been drawn to Turkey’s border with Greece, where a new refugee and migrant crisis is unfolding. This comes as Turkey’s southern border with Syria is also facing a crisis, where Ankara and Damascus have faced off for weeks.

    On this day, as ever, we wish for a peaceful Syria.

    To donate and help UNICEF reach more Syrian children and give them the support they need, visit unicef.org.uk/donate/syria/

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