Tanya Weinberg 202.640.6647 (O), 202.247.6610 (M)
WESTPORT, Conn. (August 7, 2012) — Syrian families caught up in intensifying violence in the country are being split up as they flee the fighting, Save the Children has warned today.
The international humanitarian and development agency is working with Syrian refugees in Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq, and has found that families forced from their homes are being separated from one another as they flee the conflict, leaving thousands unsure of the fate of their loved ones.
More than half of Syrian refugees are children, and many say they have no idea what has happened to siblings, parents and other close relatives left behind in Syria. Some families were separated on the journey, while others decided to leave some relatives at home to protect their property. Children separated from relatives are much more vulnerable to the risks posed by the conflict, the aid agency says.
"Children in Syria are being left extremely vulnerable as families split up while struggling to reach safety. The dangers for these children, already horrific, are getting worse, and many are terrified for the relatives they have separated from," said Carolyn Miles, President & CEO of Save the Children.
"Those who have reached the relative safety of neighboring countries are actually the lucky ones. We know there are likely to be thousands of children who have fled their homes but remain in Syria, and we cannot reach children there and attend to their needs. Full humanitarian access to Syria is urgently needed for the sake of these children," Miles said.
Fierce fighting within the country continues to force desperate families from their homes, with more than 200,000 people displaced from Aleppo alone in recent days, according to latest UN figures.
Children arriving in neighboring countries from Syria are frequently terrified by what they have seen and deeply anxious about the fate of those they have left behind.
Sophie Perreard, Save the Children’s program director in Lebanon said: 'Children crossing from Syria have been through terrible experiences. Save the Children is working to help them recover, setting up safe places to play, providing education to displaced children, distributing essential items, and making sure that families with babies and young children have the supplies they need.'
When displaced families separate, children are particularly vulnerable. Separated families often have no way of earning an income and arrive in a new country with nowhere to stay. Some refugees are afraid to register with authorities, believing they will be targeted in the conflict, and therefore miss out on support that would otherwise be available to them.
Save the Children is working with Syrian refugees in Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq, where aid agencies have been overwhelmed by a huge influx of families looking for safety as the situation inside Syria continues to deteriorate.
Despite the conflict in Syria attracting the world’s attention, humanitarian agencies have just a third of money required to meet the needs of refugees in the region.
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