Two Million Syrian Children Caught in Crossfire

Monday 18 March 2013

Two million children trapped inside Syria are innocent victims of a bloody conflict now entering its third year.  Children are under constant risk of malnutrition, disease, trauma and early marriage.


Our new report, Childhood Under Fire, shows children are struggling to find enough to eat and are living in barns, parks and caves.

They're unable to go to school as teachers have fled and schools have been attacked. Damage to sanitation systems is also forcing some children to defecate in the street.

Citing new research carried out amongst refugee children by Bahcesehir University in Turkey, the report also reveals the extent to which children have been directly targeted in the war.

Shockingly one in three children report having been hit, kicked or shot at.

Collapse of childhood

Combined with the breakdown of society in parts of the country and more than three million people displaced, the conflict has led to the collapse of childhood for millions of youngsters.

Childhood under Fire details how some young boys are being used by armed groups as porters, runners and human shields, bringing them close to the frontline.

Some girls are being married off early to ‘protect’ them from a widely-perceived threat of sexual violence.

The report’s key findings are:

  • Thousands of children are facing malnutrition as food production is wiped out and severe shortages take hold.
  • Millions of children have been forced from their homes and tens of thousands are living in parks, barns and caves.
  • Girls are being married off early in an effort to protect them from perceived threat of sexual violence.
  • Families have been left without heating in winter as fuel prices have risen by up to 500 per cent.

Struggling to survive

“For millions of Syrian children, the innocence of childhood has been replaced by the cruel realities of trying to survive this vicious war,” said Save the Children International Chief Executive, Jasmine Whitbread.

“Many are now living rough, struggling to find enough to eat, without the right medicine if they become sick or injured.

"As society has broken down, in the worst cases, hunger, homelessness and terror have replaced school for some of these young people. We cannot allow this to continue unchecked; the lives of too many children are at stake. ”

The emotional impact of war

The research by the Bahcesehir University also reveals many children are showing signs of emotional difficulties as they struggle to come to terms with their experiences.

Nearly one third of children surveyed saying that they had been separated from members of their families due to the conflict.

Three quarters of those surveyed had experienced the death of a close friend or family member.

Support our work with Syria's children

Save the Children is providing vital humanitarian relief in Syria and neighbouring countries.

We're also calling for all parties to the conflict to allow unfettered, safe access to populations in need and to ensure that everything is done to bring the fighting to an end.