Around 14 million children are suffering hardship and trauma from the war in Syria and Iraq, the United Nations children’s agency said, highlighting the needs of children struggling to cope with severe violence, and the danger to the rest of the world of failing to help a generation preyed on by extremist groups.
Violence and suffering have not only scarred their past, they are shaping their futures,” said Anthony Lake UNICEF’s director. “As the crisis enters its fifth year, this generation of young people is still in danger of being lost to a cycle of violence—replicating in the next generation what they suffered in their own.”
Across Syria, an estimated 2.8 million children were still struggling to pursue some form of learning amid the rubble and destruction resulting from the conflict. In large sections of the country controlled by the Islamic State, young children are increasingly being pulled into active roles in the conflict and subjected to intense indoctrination and training in the use of weapons, said Hanaa Singer, UNICEF’s representative in Syria.
Propaganda videos distributed by the Islamic State showing children being taught to throw bombs and to place them under vehicles. “It is scary, this buildup of the killing machine,” Ms. Singer said. “Children are being indoctrinated in a very systematic way.”
“This worst humanitarian crisis of our era should be galvanizing a global outcry of support, but instead, help is dwindling,” António Guterres, head of the United Nations refugee agency, said in a statement.
UNICEF had sought about $815 million for its operations in Syria and neighboring countries in 2015, but as of early March, it had received little more than one-tenth of that amount. “We can’t give up on the people of Syria,” Ms. Singer said.