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More Than 300,000 Syrian Children Have Known Nothing But Life As A Refugee

As the fifth anniversary of the first Syrian protest approaches, 1 in 3 Syrian children have now grown up knowing nothing but conflict.

Posted on March 14, 2016, at 5:20 a.m. ET

Tuesday marks the fifth anniversary of the first pro-democracy demonstrations in Syria, part of the Arab Spring. Five years later, the Syrian conflict is one of the most intractable in the world, spawning a massive refugee crisis and aiding ISIS's rise.

Unicef/UNICEF/UN07226/Al Saleh, WFP

Children and their families wait for permission to leave the besieged town of Madaya, rural Damascus, Jan. 11, 2016.

To mark the occasion, the U.N. Children's Fund (Unicef) has an appropriately depressing statistic to share: An estimated 3.7 million Syrian children — 1 in 3 of all Syrian children — have been born since the conflict began.

Unicef /UNICEF/UN07564/Singer

A child is screened for malnutrition at a makeshift hospital in Madaya, Jan. 14, 2016.

That number includes 306,000 children born as refugees. That's more children than the population of Pittsburgh who have never known their home country.

Unicef /UNICEF/UN07224/Al Saleh, WFP

A girl eats bread as she and other children and their families wait for permission to leave Madaya, Jan. 11, 2016.

Unicef now believes that "some 8.4 million children — more than 80 per cent of Syria’s child population — are now affected by the conflict, either inside the country or as refugees in neighboring countries," according to the release for its latest report on the conflict.


On 11 June 2014 in the Syrian Arab Republic, a woman holds her infant daughter, who underwent treatment for malnutrition, at a UNICEF-supported health centre in Aleppo, the capital of Aleppo Governorate.

© UNICEF/UNI201087/Etges

On 5 November 2015, Mohamed (2) one of three brothers who are refugees from the Syrian Arab Republic in a temporary tented camp for refugees run by Johanniter in Cologne

The new report also estimates that of 1,500 of what the U.N. calls "grave violations" against children in 2015, more than 60% were children being killed or maimed thanks to explosions. More than a third of them were killed on their way to or from school.

© UNICEF/UNI173178/Anmar

A young boy from the Syrian town of Kobane stands in Gawelan refugee camp, Iraq, Oct. 9, 2014.

All told, more than 4 million Syrians — a full 20% of the prewar population — had fled the country as of last July. Roughly half of that number are children.

Unicef /UNICEF/UN07741/Kljajo

Two Syrian refugee children stand barefoot in Al Faida informal settlement, Bekaa Valley, Lebanon, Jan. 5, 2016.

Despite the refugee crisis still engulfing the entirety of the region, the response is almost entirely unfunded at this point — only 4% of the $3.8 billion the U.N. has requested for 2016 has been donated as of March.

Unicef / © UNICEF/UN011197/Georgiev

A girl rests in a tent at a reception center for refugees and migrants in Idomeni, Feb. 19, 2016.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.