'Graveyard' for Syrian Children Unveiled in the Heart of Europe

Syria cemetary in Brussels
Save the Children has teamed up with artist Raúl Armenteros to unveil a graveyard for Syrian children in the heart of Brussels. Photo by Pedro Armestre/Save the Children.

Syrian Children's Relief Fund

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FAIRFIELD, Conn. (April 3, 2017) — Save the Children teamed up with artist Raúl Armenteros to unveil a graveyard for Syrian children in the heart of Brussels on Monday, April 3, ahead of the Syria Conference in the city on April 5. Save the Children is displaying the mock cemetery at Rond Point Schuman to recall the devastating impact of six years of war on Syrian children. In 2016 alone, at least 652 children died in Syria according to UNICEF.

The gravestones are arranged to give the feeling that the cemetery goes on forever. They are engraved with the names and ages of some of the Syrian children killed during the war, written in Arabic by a Syrian calligrapher.

At least three million children in Syria under the age of six have known nothing but war their entire lives. Our recent report, Invisible Wounds, found that Syria is now at a tipping point where millions of children have been so consistently exposed to "toxic stress" that their chances of recovering fully are dwindling by the day.

Children are already widely reporting suffering from stress-induced illnesses. Many say they feel hopeless and are being robbed of their future. Across all the locations we surveyed, children, parents and caregivers said the lack of schools and education is taking an enormous toll on children. Sixty percent of adults cited the loss of education as one of the biggest impacts on their children's daily life. This is having an enormous impact on children’s psychosocial wellbeing and has critical implications for a post-war Syria. Over the past six years there have been more than 4,000 attacks on schools in Syria – almost two a day.

Ahead of the Syria Conference in Brussels, Save the Children is calling on the international community and the parties to the conflict to respect and protect the rights of all Syrian children affected by the conflict. It is essential the warring parties stop attacking civilian infrastructure like schools and health facilities. We are also calling on the donor community to deliver on their commitments to get all Syrian refugees to school, agreed at the London Conference in February 2016; and to step up funding for programs that support Syrian children's mental health and wellbeing, and ensure they are integral to humanitarian programming.

Save the Children believes every child deserves a future. In U.S and around the world, we give children a healthy start in life, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm. We do whatever it takes for children — every day and in times of crisis — transforming their lives and the future we share. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

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