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Child refugees from Syria hit one million mark

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
August 23rd, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Two agencies with the United Nations say that child refugees fleeing Syrian violence have topped the one million mark. It's yet another grim milestone for a raging two-year conflict that seemingly has no end in sight.  

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Furthermore, roughly half of all the two million registered refugees from Syria are children. Of this number, some 740,000 of those are under the age of 11, according to the U.N. refugee and children's agencies.

"This one millionth child refugee is not just another number," Anthony Lake, the head of UNICEF, the U.N. children's agency says. "This is a real child ripped from home, maybe even from a family, facing horrors we can only begin to comprehend."


Children who escape Syria often learn that the worst is yet to come. "Even after they have crossed a border to safety, they are traumatized, depressed and in need of a reason for hope," Antonio Guterres, the head of the Office for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, known as UNHCR, says.


Guterres' agency says that it tries to ensure that babies born in exile are provided with birth certificates, preventing them from becoming stateless. The agency also tries to find that refugee families and children live in some form of shelter.


The dangers to refugee children are rising, the agencies say, including child labor, early marriage and the potential for sexual exploitation and trafficking.


More than 3,500 children in Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq have crossed Syria's borders unaccompanied or separated from their families. Agencies report that some 7,000 children are among the more than 100,000 killed in the unrest in Syria, which began in March 2011 which later erupted into a civil war.


Most of the refugees fleeing Syria have arrived in Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt. More Syrians are now fleeing to North Africa and Europe. The U.N. says.


The two U.N. agencies estimate that more than two million children also have been displaced within Syria.


U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon Ban said in a speech in Seoul, South Korea, that the real number of Syrian refugees is "well over two million" if unregistered refugees are counted.


"The situation in Syria continues to worsen. The humanitarian suffering is alarming. Sectarian tensions have been ignited. Regional instability is spreading ."

 
"It is heartbreaking to see all these young people, children and women and refugees, who do not have any means, any hope for their country," Ban said. "They do not know when they will be able to return to their country."


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