Child refugees pay the highest price

It is estimated that approximately half of the 19.5 million registered refugees at the global level are children or youths. They are the most vulnerable victims of these conflicts.

Years of conflict have turned Syria into one of the most dangerous places to be a child, according to UNICEF. It is estimated that 5.5 million children are affected by the conflict, a number that is almost double from the year before. More than 4.29 million children inside Syria are poor, displaced or caught in the line of fire.

As a result of the fall in immunization rates — from 99 percent before the war to less than 50 percent now — polio has re-emerged in Syria after a 14-year absence. At the same time, doctors report an increase in the number and severity of cases of measles, pneumonia and diarrhea.

The capacity of the country’s health care system to provide assistance to the population has been seriously affected. Many doctors and health personnel have either been killed or have left the country. Sixty percent of the public hospitals have been damaged or are out of service.

Syrian refugee children are at very high risk for mental illness and have poor access to education. In the Za’atari refugee camp in Jordan, for example, one-third of all children displayed aggressive and self-harm behavior. According to Europol, Europe’s policy agency, thousands of unaccompanied refugee and migrant children have disappeared, raising fears they are being exploited and used for sex.

The post-traumatic stress disorder rate among Syrian refugee children is comparable to that observed among other children who have experienced war. A study by the Migration Policy Institute shows that refugee children who are not formally educated are more likely to feel marginalized and hopeless, making them probable targets for radicalization.

[Japan Times]

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