Children are the ones who pay the high price of wars, they are the high price of every war. Of the Syrian civil war, for instance. They have no toys in the small and poor town of Madaya nor in the big and noble Damascus. Bullets and bombs are their toys, along with the rubble. Laughter and cheerfulness do not resound there, streets are empty, only the whistle of the bullets that cut the air and the roar of collapsing buildings. Children’s legs are imprisoned in a life that is not a life, when they do not jump because of the mines scattered here and there. There is no water, no food, no medicines, no blankets to protect from the cold and hide from fear, there is no love where pain takes control.
They do not play hopscotch, a game enjoyed by children around the world. For them, the bell has been ringing every day since 2011. Only in 2015, 750 of them were killed during the bombings. The video of the skinny Syrian child, killed by malnutrition has gone viral on social networks, but nothing has changed among those who decide the fate of wars and peace. In the five years since the outbreak of the conflict in the country, killed more than 250 thousand people. 12 million Syrians are forced to flee from their homes and native land. Half of the population. Syrians are wounded even before their first cry can be heard. Like little Amel who was born in Aleppo during a bombing at the end of last year, with bomb splinters in her head and invisible and ineradicable splinters in her heart.
Too many children are on their own either because they lose all of their relatives or because they are abandoned. In 2014 alone, out of 2,100 minor refugees in Italy, over 1,500 were Syrians. It is the most severe humanitarian crisis of our time, as it was pointed out also by Secretary General of the United Nations Ban Ki-Moon. There is not only death; it is not the absolute evil. Fleeing from violence hides shadows that are even more terrible, such as minor trade, the disappearance of many migrant children, child marriage and child labor, in their families’ attempt to survive. They suffer from harassment, violence, and torture. Children are the innocent victims of the most heinous crimes against humanity.
World Vision, a non-governmental organization engaged in sponsorships, has assisted over two million displaced people and refugees in Syria and neighboring countries such as Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon, and Turkey. In 2015, World Vision provided over half a million people with basic necessities, food, water, and hygiene kits. More than 300 thousand of them were children. They built infrastructures for water supply, latrines, and sewage systems inside the refugee camps and helped about 35 thousand people to protect themselves from the chill of winter with clothes and blankets. Almost 28 thousand people, 15 thousand of whom were minors, received health care, also in the shape of counseling and education programs. The NGO is promoting a fundraising campaign to ensure assistance and shelter to populations affected by war, especially to children.
The economic cost of the Syrian war has is a heavy burden for the national economy: 275 billion dollars are the numbers declared in the report “The Cost of Conflict for Children” stilled by World Vision in collaboration with Frontier Economics. These numbers keep growing exponentially. “They will never be recovered nor invested to guarantee education, health care, livelihoods, protection, and a future to Syrian children,” says Conny Lenneberg, head of World Vision’s ‘‘Middle East Program’’.
According to analysts’ estimations, if the war ended this year, it would cost 689 billion (and 1.3 trillion dollars if it were to end in 2020). “Behind every statistic, behind every proportion, every dollar, there is a child who can no longer go to school, who goes hungry to bed, does not receive the medical care they need, and does not even have a roof under which to take cover,” said Wynn Flaten, director of World Vision’s Syria Crisis Program.
It is a slap in the face of those who turn away the eyes of their consciousness and shrug. “The report aims at demonstrating and emphasizing the international community’s urgent need to mobilize its diplomatic strength in order to end this conflict once and for all,” says Fran Charles, director of World Vision’s Syria Crisis Response Advocacy at World Vision. The commitment of the volunteers and the aid of the agencies is not enough. A fast international political intervention is necessary to support peace in Syria and in the Middle East.