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  • Writer's pictureDurham Pro Bono Blog

Who Are the Real Victims of the Syrian Conflict?

Updated: Dec 1, 2018

A war that began with civil unrest eight years ago has transformed a country once renowned for its beauty into a battleground, with horrors that have attracted the attention of the world.

The Syrian civil war refers to the ongoing struggle between the Syrian government led by Bashar al-Assad and various opposition groups, fighting against the oppression of the political regime in place. The conflict is multi-sided with countries including most notably, the USA and Russia as well as Iran and Turkey becoming actively involved. This has led to friction between countries on opposing sides of the conflict meaning that the bloodshed has only worsened over the years.

Since 2011, when the conflict first began, there have been 207 thousand civilian deaths[1] and around 25 thousand of these were children.[2] This is a devastating figure which emphasises how in reality, it is the children who are truly suffering due to the catastrophic consequences of the civil war. The heart-breaking truth is that it isn’t uncommon for many children to have grown up knowing nothing but war because they are too young to remember a time when the streets of Syria’s cities were adorned with life and culture instead of bullets and fear. For many children, a tough life in refugee camps of neighbouring countries including Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan, is all they know.[3] A UNICEF report in September 2018, highlighted that out of the 13.1 million refugees affected by the conflict, over half (5.6 million) are children.[4]

The unthinkable violence witnessed by these children means that they are mourned as Syria’s “lost generation.” The grief and loss these children have suffered has no doubt left its mark, damaging their potential. [5] The Syrian war has taken the innocence of childhood away for many, leaving them with so little, so early in their lives. In February 2018 the UN reported that “85 percent of Syrian refugee children in Jordan are living below the poverty line.”[6] The consequences of this are that there is little access to basic needs such as food and education for child refugees with humanitarian aid from UNICEF being limited due to funding. This means that hope for Syria’s child refugees is dimming as they struggle to survive in a world with little opportunity for them.

The story of the orphan Razan[7], a seven-year-old Syrian child is one which shows the adversity that refugee children face. Razan’s family were displaced from their home in Syria after her father was shot and killed. Razan lost her mother and sister after the bombardment of the relatives’ home they were staying in. She has since shown severe signs of trauma and now stays in a residential centre in Turkey with her remaining siblings. Unfortunately, Razan is only one of millions of children for whom this is bitter reality.

Presently, Syria’s children face a distressing situation, however there is still promise for them in the future. Charities such as Save the Children[8] aim to help alleviate the hardships of the children affected by the war by providing health and education services amongst other humanitarian aid to those they can reach. Their work means that traumatised children receive the support they need. In horrific circumstances they focus on giving children a small part of their childhood back and the impact of such efforts is phenomenal. The charity believes that “children in Syria have seen and experienced things that no child ever should.” Sadly, this sombre truth can’t be changed but it is important for the world to recognise that it isn’t too late for these children.

We must not give up on them because their ordeal only demonstrates their strength and it is this same willpower to survive that will help them build a better future for themselves and Syria.

Suleha Baig

Middle East Section Feature Writer

29th November, 2018


[1] Statista, < > accessed 24th November 2018

[2] Ibid

[3] Chris Huber, Kathryn Reid, Denise C. Koenig, ‘Syrian refugee crisis: Facts, FAQs, and how to help’ (World Vision)

[4] UNICEF, ‘Syria Crisis Humanitarian Situation report’ (September 2018), 2 < > accessed 24th November 2018

[5] Martin Chulov, ‘2017 was the deadliest year of Syrian war for children, says Unicef’ The Guardian (Beirut, 12 March 2018) <>

[6] Lucy Lyon, ‘Syrian refugee children in Jordan deprived of the most basic needs – UNICEF’ UN News (26 February 2018) <>

[7] Lizzie Dearden, ‘Syrian children tell harrowing stories of death and destruction as trauma crisis threatens country's future’ The Independent (12 March 2017) < >

[8] Save the Children, Our Response <> accessed 24th November 2018

Disclaimer: The views expressed are that of the individual author. All rights are reserved to the original authors of the materials consulted, which are listed in the bibliography above.

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