The Syrian civil war is creating a generation of traumatized, isolated and under-educated children who are vulnerable to exploitation and recruitment by armed groups, the United Nations said in a report.
About 1.1 million of 2.2 million refugees registered with the UN’s refugee agency are children, and among those who are school-aged fewer than half are in school, according to the report released today the UN High Commissioner for Refugees based on its July-October 2013 survey of refugee children and their families in Lebanon and Jordan.
Several of the 57 boys interviewed for the report expressed a desire to return to Syria to fight and the UN has heard of boys being trained to fight in preparation for return to Syria, the report said.
More than 100,000 Syrians have died since a civil war broke out on the heels of peaceful demonstrations which started in March 2011. The UN has struggled to deliver aid inside Syria, where an increasing number of opposition reports cite the use of starvation and siege tactics by government forces. The Security Council hasn’t been able to agree on a binding resolution that would require Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government and about 1,200 armed opposition groups to provide humanitarian-aid corridors.
“Looking back over the last 20 years, the Syria refugee crisis for us is unparalleled since the Rwanda crisis,” Volker Turk, the refugee agency’s director of international protection, told reporters in Geneva, referring to the 1994 genocide in the African country. About 800,000 men, women and children of ethnic Tutsis died in a weeks-long rampage by the Hutus, the ethnic majority.