Syrian children suffering disturbing effects of conflict

United Nations reports number of Syrian refugees reaches one million

MISSISSAUGA, ON, March 7, 2013 /CNW/ - As the number of refugees fleeing Syria tops one million, children are bearing the brunt of the crisis and the situation is getting worse, according to World Vision.

"Children tell stories of sniper fire in their street, bombings of their homes, losing loved ones. So many families have lost everything and it will take years to rebuild their lives," says Anita Delhaas-Van Djik, World Vision Lebanon National Director. "Many are resorting to drastic measures to cope, including some mothers who are even considering marrying off their daughters to ensure their children's own survival. This is why it is vital that we are there to help now and in the years to come."

Almost two years has elapsed since the start of conflict in Syria. In recent weeks, the number of refugees fleeing the country has risen dramatically and has now reached one million much sooner than anyone predicted.

"During my visit to Lebanon last December, World Vision released a report that showed stories of fear and uncertainty among Syrian refugee children are commonplace. The children spoke movingly about what has happened to them," World Vision Canada President and CEO Dave Toycen says. "After almost two years of conflict and violence, the new normal for children has become a life of fear and uncertainty, and that's the most heartbreaking of all."

In Lebanon, those who have fled Syria are living in makeshift shelters, tents, rented accommodation they often can't afford, or with host families. World Vision is providing food, heating and basic household supplies to more than 60,000 refugees, including those who are registered, still waiting for their registration and those who are unable or too frightened to register. However, refugees and host communities alike are seeing the health, welfare and education services they rely on become overwhelmed to the point of failure.

"Unfortunately, the funding for this crisis is still fairly woeful. The effect is that the UN and others, including aid agencies, are finding it increasingly difficult to reach all refugees, including children, to ensure no one in need is missed out. Hosting countries surrounding Syria are playing their part - donor governments must do the same" says Delhaas-Van Dijk.

"The future of the more than half a million children who have fled Syria, and the countless more still inside the country, hangs on how well the international humanitarian response is funded and that it remains in place for as long as it is needed," Toycen concludes. "I would urge Canadians to visit our website at to learn more about how they can help these children and their families."

World Vision is a Christian relief, development and advocacy organization dedicated to working with children, families and communities to overcome poverty and injustice. World Vision serves all people regardless of religion, race, ethnicity or gender. Visit our News Centre at

SOURCE: World Vision Canada

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To arrange interviews with World Vision staff in Lebanon, please contact Bob Neufeld (Mobile: 647-622-2045) or

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