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Syrian refugee babies born into chaos and uncertainty

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
December 26th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

This Christmas as millions worldwide celebrate the birth of the Christ child in a manger, countless children are being born in far more arduous conditions. The millions fleeing war-torn Syria have been rapidly giving birth to children who face a chaotic, uncertain beginning in refugee camps. It's estimated that s baby is being born to a Syrian refugee every hour. The United Nations has since launched a multimillion appeal to help Syrian children.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic online) - Over 21,000 Syrian babies have been born as refugees since the start of the civil war nearly three years ago. Many live in appalling conditions amid the freezing temperatures of winter in makeshift camps.

The United nations has warned that more had to be done to help the babies and children of the civil war if a "disaster" is to be avoided.

It's estimated that more than a million children are among the 2.2 million Syrians who have been forced to flee to neighboring countries. Most of the Syrian children are being born in Lebanon, where resources are meager if non-existent. 

Snow falls regularly. Many refugees live in flimsy tented camps. Temperatures plunge nightly below freezing, facilitating cases of pneumonia among children.
 
The U.N. says about 500,000 Syrian children are at risk of contracting polio after missing vaccinations because of the civil war.

In addition, the majority of babies born as refugees do not have their births officially registered, meaning they will be more vulnerable to abuse, such as people trafficking and forced child marriage. As an example, only 23 percent of the 781 babies born in Lebanon to Syrian mothers in October had birth certificates.

UNICEF said the percentage of Caesarean-section deliveries inside Syria has doubled as mothers try to avoid the risk of being unable to reach health centers and hospitals and forced to endure unattended births.

As Syrian refugees stream into neighboring countries, over 2,500 women have given birth to babies in refugee camps in Turkey. Ten babies a day are born to Syrian refugee women in Jordan.

In Lebanon, more than 835,000 refugees live in tented camps, unused buildings or with friends or family, according to figures from the U.N. High Commission for Refugees. The government of the country of just 4.5 million people estimates the numbers to be much higher, at around one million.

Unlike other nations, the Lebanese government is not providing facilities or land to temporarily accommodate refugees despite the continuing influx, which has effectively increased the population of the country by 25 percent.

Refugees in Lebanon live in appalling conditions. Families crowd into slums, tents and tin shacks strung with laundry lines and wedged between farmland outside towns and cities.



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