General News — 02 December 2013

Hundreds of thousands of children caught up in Syria’s brutal civil war are having their “innocence ruthlessly exploited”, many of them having suffered physical and psychological harm, a new report warns.

The report by the United Nations, based on a four-month study in Lebanon and Jordan, has highlighted the devastating wider impact the conflict is having.

It found that more than 1.1 million Syrian children are registered as refugees, with 75 per cent under the age of 12, and that these children face a shocking degree of loneliness, isolation and insecurity.

“Too many [children] have been wounded physically, psychologically or both,” wrote the report authors.

“Some children have been drawn into the war – their innocence ruthlessly exploited.”mother and daughter

The report also warns that children are being forced to quit school for a life of child labour.

“A grave consequence of the conflict is that a generation is growing up without a formal education,” wrote the report authors.

As many as 300,000 living in Lebanon and Jordan could be without schooling by the end of 2013, the study found.

The numbers

  • Over 1.1 million Syrian children are      refugees.
  • 291,238 Syrian refugee children in Jordan,  385,007 in Lebanon.
  • 3,700 children living without one or both parents.
  • 200,000 children could remain out of school at the end of 2013.
  • 77 per cent of refugee infants do not have an official birth certificate.

“If we do not act quickly, a generation of innocents will become lasting casualties of an appalling war,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres, when he launched the report.

Mr Guteres, who has been visiting a refugee camp in Lebanese border city of Asal, says a massive amount of support is needed.

“Let’s be honest. We are not doing enough. We need to praise the governments of those the neighbouring countries that have done everything to support the populations,” he said.

“We are in a city that has more Syrians than Lebanese. I mean these people have been extremely generous, but it’s not enough because the suffering is really out of proportion with anything I have known until now.”

The UNHCR carried out a series of interviews with Syrian children and families living in Jordan and Lebanon between July and October 2013.

Researchers interviewed 81 refugee children and held group discussions with 121 others. They also consulted UN and NGO staff working with them.

Firms keen to destroy Syrian chemicals, sources say

More than two dozen companies have expressed their interest in destroying Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile, say sources at the global chemical weapons watchdog.

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) asked companies a week ago to express interest in destroying nearly 800 tonnes of chemicals and 7.7 million litres of liquid waste.

Finland’s state-owned firm, Ekokem, is one firm that has already expressed interest, ahead of Friday’s deadline.

“We have expressed our interest to bid on some of the chemicals in the list… that are pretty similar to what we regularly handle,” said chief executive at Ekokem, Timo Piekkari.

This article first appeared on ABC News on Saturday 30 November, 2013.



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