UNICEF: 14 million children at risk in Syria, Iraq

Published March 12th, 2015 - 05:52 GMT

The UN children's agency has warned the escalating conflict in Syria and Iraq has put more than 14 million children across the region under risk of violence, poverty, trauma and exploitation.

UNICEF’s representative in Damascus Hanaa Singer told a press conference in Berlin on Thursday that the suffering of children throughout Syria had dramatically worsened as the conflict entered its fifth year this month.  

She said: "The number of children in need of humanitarian assistance is now 15 times more than they were in the year 2012."

"In Syria, there are 5.6 million children impacted by the conflict the majority of whom were displaced. Some children have been displaced several times."

'Lost generation'

She said that, despite strong efforts by the UNICEF and international aid organizations, more than two million children in the country could not be reached for assistance with basic health support and humanitarian help.

Singer called for education opportunities to be provided for Syrian children and adolescents and warned against a "lost generation" as millions of Syrian children are out of school.  

She said: "More than 50 thousand teachers have been killed or fled the country — 2.6 million children are out of school in Syria."

"Going to school is the most basic right of a child and has become the magical remedy for Syrian children. It gives them the motivation to wake up every morning. It gives them a chance to live a few hours of childhood a day,” Singer said.

Violent crackdown

Singer went on: "We must invest more in learning, education and vocational training to equip the young people with skills and support their livelihood."

"We must not lose hope or give up on Syria."

Singer said UNICEF staff would continue its activities in Syria despite the fact that the country had turned into one of the most dangerous places for international humanitarian workers.  

The Syrian civil war entered its fifth year this month, having left as many as 210,000 people dead, according to the UN.

The conflict, which started in March 2011 when the regime of President Bashar al-Assad responded to anti-government protests with a violent crackdown, has also exacerbated an acute refugee crisis, with as many as 3.8 million Syrian refugees registered in neighboring Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq, according to the UN.

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