A group of children stand together in a road surrounded by tents in a camp in North East Syria, the area where Turkey has launched a military operation. As a result of the hostilities, already vulnerable families are being forced to flee for safety. Save the Children is working in the three camps to provide much-needed humanitarian aid and support, including tents and food. Photo credit: Save the Children, Oct 2019.
On the Run Again: Families in North East Syria are Seen Fleeing for Safety
North East Syria is home to too many boys and girls all too familiar with the horrors of war. Like millions of Syrian children, they have lived through brutal conflict. Some have grown up knowing nothing but war.
Now, with reports of hostilities along the North East Syrian border claiming the lives of civilians, including those of two children, vulnerable families living in displacement camps face an increased need for immediate humanitarian assistance.
Save the Children staff in the North East express grave concern for the families and children they see fleeing for safety. “People are afraid and cannot predict the extent of the military operations,” Jiwan, a Save the Children staff in the North East said. “With winter around the corner, they will face additional challenges as they search for shelter.”
Thousands of Syrian and foreign children who have recently moved from ISIS-held areas into displacement camps in North East Syria already face life-threatening risks. They show signs of psychological distress, and many will likely need long term mental health and psychosocial support to recover from their experiences.[i]
As children have moved from shelter to tent, and from town to camp, their sense of home and belonging has been lost. Attending school and playing with friends may be a distant memory. Instead, vivid memories of brutality and bombs fill their head.
11-year old Mai*, was resettled with her family to a camp in North East Syria after living for several years under ISIS.
“They burned our home to the ground to force us out,” she recalled. “When ISIS was there, we weren’t allowed to go to school or learn and they raised the price of vegetables, so we were all going hungry. Whenever they saw a woman talking with a man they would stone them, and they would behead prisoners in front of their family. I always tried not to look when there were beheadings, I would hide behind my mum.”
When Mai arrived in the camp, she felt relieved that there was no violence around her, although she was still scared every time a plane flew overhead. Today, with the cadence of explosions throughout the night, children like Mai face an uncertain future and unimaginable emotional pain.
Your support can help provide the hundreds of thousands of children and families present in North East Syria with life-saving support and hope. Save the Children is working in three camps to provide much-needed support.
Our priority is to ensure that the best interests of children are met, and that they have food, critical supplies and are protected. Our teams are still present in the area and delivering our programs, and we are preparing to scale up to meet the increased needs.
A donation to the Syrian Children’s Relief Fund can help protect the children of Syria who, like Mai, are witnessing things no children should ever see.
Currently, there are 1.65 million people in need of humanitarian assistance in North East Syria, including more than 650,000 displaced by war. Save the Children is prepared to scale up relief operations, which have been continuous since 2014, however recent hostilities are putting many at risk. Through donor support, our teams are providing emergency health services for women and children, nutrition support as well as critical care for new mothers and their babies. We are also running safe spaces for children so boys and girls can access play and learning activities that promote emotional and mental wellbeing.
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