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The Crisis Of Syria's Refugee Children Grows

A U.N. survey of Syrian refugees in Lebanon and Jordan finds many Syrian children living alone or separated from their parents, most receiving no education, and many involved in illegal labor.

Posted on November 29, 2013, at 12:00 a.m. ET

There are now more than 1.1 million Syrian refugee children, most living in neighboring countries:


More than 70,000 Syrian refugee families live without fathers.

UNHCR / S. Rich

A young mother crosses the border from Syria and becomes a refugee. She carries her 1-month-old son, Hamid. “Since he was born there has been nonstop bombing every day.”

There are 3,700 refugee children who are either unaccompanied by or separated from both parents.

UNHCR / G. Beals

Syrian refugee children line up for work in Za’atari refugee camp in Jordan. UNICEF estimates that 1 in 10 refugee children in the region is engaged in child labor.

In Jordan, nearly one in two refugee households surveyed relied partly or entirely on income generated by a child.

UNHCR / S. Baldwin

Mahmoud, 15, hasn’t been to school for nearly three years. His salary of $60 a month from a Lebanese fish factory helps to pay the rent for the underground storage room his family lives in.

Of those interviewed by the U.N. refugee agency, 29% say they leave their home once a week or less. Home is often a crammed apartment or makeshift shelter.

UNHCR / O. Laban-Mattei

These children live in a tiny apartment in the suburbs of Amman. The television is one of the only sources of entertainment.

More than 1,000 children at Jordan's Za’atri camp have been treated for war-related injuries over the past year.

UNHCR / O. Laban-Mattei

A Syrian refugee mother living in Amman, Jordan, shows the wounds on the face of her young daughter after she was hit by a neighbor.

In Lebanon, it is estimated that some 200,000 school-aged Syrian refugee children could remain out of school at the end of the year.

UNHCR / E. Byun

"I left all my dolls in Syria when we fled to Lebanon. So my daddy made this doll with a piece of wood, then I put some clothes on it," Noura, 7, said. "I really love my new doll but I miss all my toys back in Syria. And I also miss my friends."

GoPro videos from inside the Za'atari refugee camp in Jordan:

View this video on YouTube


View this video on YouTube


The full UNHCR report released on Friday:

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.