Syrian Child Refugees – a “Lost Generation”?
Since March 2011, millions of Syrians affected by the war there have fled the country, many seeking refuge in neighbouring Jordan and Lebanon.
According to official figures from UNICEF, children currently account for just over half of the total number of refugees. These children are now at real risk of becoming a ‘lost generation’.
As Soha Bsat El Boustany, UNICEF, Lebanon, said: “If we don’t provide them with education, they’re lost. This is the generation that’s going to re-build their country in a few years. They are the future. The children feel that they can’t dream, that they can’t hope. They are the future generation who are supposed to re-build. The children feel their horizons and hopes are limited.”
Badr El Thaher is 12 years old but hasn’t attended school since leaving Syria. He works as a delivery boy to help his family make ends meet, charging $1 for every delivery and using a heavy, oversized wheelbarrow for his transport.
“Sometimes I get home and feel my back will break,” he says, “I don’t have the strength to walk anymore”.
In Lebanon, Oday El Sino, 14 years old, is looking towards the future and a home he clearly misses. After the situation escalated in Syria, he ‘didn’t have a dream’ – but since enrolling in school in Saadnayel, things have changed. His dream is now “to be an engineer and learn how to rebuild my country.”
However, even if children are fortunate enough to find a place at school – be it in Lebanon or in Jordan – they still struggle to make the most out of their new lives. With a new curriculum to adjust to, segregation between Syrian and ‘local’ children and lack of funds to purchase school materials, fleeing the Syrian war appears to be just the beginning of ‘the troubles’ for Syria’s refugee children.
- Pray for the millions of child refugees who have fled Syria, as well as those internally displaced within Syria. Many arrive at refugee camps unaccompanied, and are vulnerable to abuse and to child trafficking. Pray for protection for these children, and for safe places for them to call home.
- Pray for this generation of children, that they will not be a “lost generation” but rather have access to education and resources that will renew their hope and dreams of returning to and rebuilding Syria one day.
- Pray for the many Christian workers involved in helping child refugees. Pray for opportunities to share the love of Christ, and for many of these children to find healing, hope and new life through Jesus.
Psalm 68 vs 5: “Father of orphans and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation.”