The number of children who have been forced to flee the conflict in Syria has topped the one million mark, according to the United Nations.
The UN said that is half the total of those fleeing Syria, while about three-quarters of those children are under the age of 11.
“We see this as a children’s crisis first and foremost because they’re the ones who feel the violence most directly. They’re the ones who are affected by the violence,” said Ted Chaiban UNICEF’s Director of Emergency Programmes on a visit to the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan.
Agencies are warning of a lost generation. Only about a tenth of children are able to get some form of education while a fifth have undergone counselling.
One nine-year-old refugee in the Zaatari camp spoke of his hopes for the future. “I want to return to Syria to live in peace and to go back to school. I want to be able to play with my old friends again, just like before. I want our country to be safe, safe enough to live in and for it to be prosperous again,” he said.
An eight-year-old who had fled from Damascus also talked of peace in her country. “All I wish is that Syria could become peaceful again. That’s all I want, for the trouble to stop. This time next year I hope everything goes back to normal, to the way it used to be,” she said.
In Syria about two million people have been displaced and according to the UN are often attacked or recruited as fighters in a conflict which, it says, has caused the world’s worst refugee crisis for 20 years.