June 19, 2013
FAQs: War in Syria, children, and the refugee crisis
Updated: Read our overview of the Syrian refugee situation in Lebanon and World Vision’s response to the crisis.
The civil war in Syria has entered its third year, and more than a million refugees have fled the country in the first five months of 2013.
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 June, about 4.25 million had been displaced within Syria, and more than 1.6 million had fled to neighboring countries.
Does the number of refugees show any sign of slowing?
No. Thousands of refugees are leaving Syria every day. Their main 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?
Refugees have taken up residence in abandoned buildings, sheds, spare rooms, garages, and tent settlements. Conditions are often crowded and unsanitary. Even so, families struggle to pay rent.
In Jordan, about 40 percent of refugees are living in camps. The main camp in Jordan is Za’atari, near the border with Syria. It is home to at least 100,000 people — putting it over full capacity.
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 counseling to help them cope with their 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, the government has opened public schools to Syrian children, but language barriers, cost of transportation, and the poor state of the public education system keeps many refugee children out of school.
How is World Vision responding?
In Lebanon, World Vision is assisting more than 94,000 Syrian refugees. Help includes provision of food vouchers, hygiene kits, and projects to improve access to clean water and sanitation.
We’re also offering classes for Syrian children to facilitate their enrollment in Lebanese schools and providing supplementary classes for those already enrolled in school.
Additionally, World Vision runs Child-Friendly Spaces — safe areas where children can learn, engage in fun activities, and recover from emotional scars.
In Jordan, World Vision is setting up water and sanitation facilities for 30,000 refugees in the new camp at Azraq.
Check out this CNN coverage for more information about life for Syrian refugees in Lebanon.
How you can help
Pray for children and families impacted by the violence in Syria. Pray especially for families who have been separated due to the conflict, and pray for emotional and physical protection for vulnerable children and families. Consider using our prayer points to help guide your prayers.
Make a one-time gift to help Syrian refugees in Lebanon. Your donation will help us provide basic hygiene kits and food vouchers for refugee families, as well as established Child-Friendly Spaces to provide affected children with a safe place to play, learn, and interact with their peers.