Francine Uenuma 202.640.6810 (O), 202.450.9153 (M)
WESTPORT, Conn. (August 23, 2012) — Children caught in fighting in Syria are being killed, maimed, and denied access to food and medicine as the number of child refugees fleeing the civil war tops one million, Save the Children said today.
Save the Children has spoken to families trapped by some of the worst violence yet seen in the two-and-a-half year conflict. They tell of a desperate struggle to survive, living under bombardment, the threat of violence and ever-dwindling supplies as the war chokes Syrian cities.
Outside Syria, the number of refugees forced to abandon their homes and livelihoods and settle in neighboring countries has increased sharply in 2013 — there has been a tenfold increase since the same day in 2012.
"It is appalling that the world has stood and watched as one million children have been forced from their country, terrified, traumatized and in some cases orphaned," said Carolyn Miles, president and CEO of Save the Children.
"This is not a crisis we can sit out; it is not going away. The refugee disaster the war in Syria has created is getting far worse, far faster than the world can cope with. It is now critically important world leaders secure humanitarian access across Syria.
"More than 7,000 children are dead and one million have been exiled as a result of this war. How many more grim milestones must the world witness before we put a stop to these horrors?"
Countries with large refugee populations are struggling to cope with the influx, and close to two-thirds of funding pledged to help countries deal with the refugee crisis has yet to materialize. In just the past week, close to 30,000 refugees have fled Syria for northern Iraq.
More than half of all refugees affected by the war are children. They remain the most vulnerable group, even after their families have escaped the imminent threat of death inside Syria.
The United Nations estimates more than 7,000 children have been killed in the war so far — a number likely to be far higher as most of Syria's dead are registered without their age.
Without immediate humanitarian access to Syria, Save the Children is gravely concerned the numbers of child refugees will continue to rise as conditions worsen.
Save the Children is the leading independent organization for children in need, with programs in 120 countries, including the United States. We aim to inspire breakthroughs in the way the world treats children, and to achieve immediate and lasting change in their lives by improving their health, education and economic opportunities. In times of acute crisis, we mobilize rapid assistance to help children recover from the effects of war, conflict and natural disasters. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.