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Humanitarian Needs In Syria Soar In The Wake Of Earthquakes And 12 Years Of War

On the anniversary of 12 years of war in Syria, World Vision says the country is at rock bottom as it struggles with years of conflict and the devastation wrought by recent earthquakes.

The organisation says the recent earthquakes have only added to the complex layers of suffering for the Syrian people and many children are now more vulnerable to exploitation and abuse.

World Vision’s Syria Response Director, Johan Mooij, says the level of suffering experienced in the Middle Eastern nation is almost unimaginable.

“On this twelfth anniversary of war in Syria, we’re calling on the international community to recognise the immense suffering and devastation this country has experienced and to act to support the people of Syria who have faced far too much for far too long.

“The impact of these recent earthquakes on top of so many years of conflict is so enormous that it could take a generation for survivors to recover, especially in Northern Syria where millions were already living on humanitarian aid with few prospects of their lives improving,” he says.

World Vision New Zealand International Partnerships Director, TJ Grant, says the agency is deeply concerned for the nearly 6.5 million children living in Syria.

“So many children in Syria have only ever known war. Their childhood memories are those of violence and suffering. Attacks on towns, cities, and even camps for those who have been displaced from their homes, are part of everyday life, and this, combined with the impact of Covid-19, a recent cholera outbreak, and the earthquakes means the prospects for child survival and development in Syria are bleak,” he says.

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Grant says World Vision New Zealand is helping to fund programmes in Syria to help combat the cholera outbreak, along with other initiatives centred on child protection, including mental health and psychosocial support, and education.

“We know that one-third of children are not in school in Syria and that for girls this increases their risk of child marriage and exploitation. The programmes Kiwis are helping to fund aim to keep children safe and give them opportunities and hope for the future,” he says.

Mooij says the recent earthquakes have left some 850,000 children in Syria and Türkiye homeless and Syrian children are at increased risk of developing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder due to recurring childhood exposure to adversity.

“Syrian boys and girls deserve to live happy and fulfilled lives and need us now more than ever before. World Vision is working to provide education, livelihood opportunities, and mental health services to help give children better lives,” he says.

In 2022, World Vision provided healthcare, water and sanitation, education and psychosocial support to more than 1.9 million people in Syria – nearly half of whom were children and a third of whom were women.

New Zealanders wanting to help support children in Syria can text RESPOND to 5055 or visit www.wvnz.org.nz/CHR

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