This month, it’s six years since the devastating war in Syria broke out.
It’s turned what was a peaceful and beautiful country into a living nightmare for millions of Syrians – including countless children and teenagers.
Some of the younger children have only ever known war. They are too young to remember a life without constant gunfire and bombings. They have suffered since the day they were born, struggling to find food to eat and clean water to drink.
They can’t go to school. They have no shelter or warmth. And perhaps worst of all, millions have been orphaned.
The war broke out in March 2011 when protesters peacefully took to the streets. They were demanding democracy and the resignation of Syria’s President Assad.
But things soon turned nasty and security forces started using violence against the protestors. This provoked more everyday people to fight for their rights. Then, rival religious organisations and rebel groups got involved and a messy and complicated war erupted.
And if that wasn’t bad enough, the terror group Daesh [ISIS] started gaining power and taking control of large parts of Syria.
The violence and bloodshed has been horrific.
The charity Save the Children has been working in Syria to help as many young people as possible. Here’s what they say about the conflict’s impact on children from eyewitness accounts:
‘Syria’s children have been bombed, shot at and starved to death. They’ve seen loved ones killed or injured, right before their eyes. Their homes and schools reduced to rubble. Their families torn apart.
‘Many of these traumatised children are showing signs of severe psychological distress, with possibly lifelong effects. Some are withdrawn, others act out. Some have lost the ability to speak. Many experience violent nightmares or can’t sleep at all, fearing they’ll never wake up.’
It’s like something from a horror movie. Except it’s real. And these innocent people are living in the middle of it every single day.
An estimated 11 million Syrians have fled their homes. 13.5 million are in need of emergency humanitarian assistance.
Can you imagine what it’s like to be a mother trying to look after your children in the middle of a war zone, with hardly any access to food or water and the constant threat of sniper fire?
The Syrian war has made the whole world take notice. Many countries are giving aid money to help charities working on the ground in Syria. Many are also involved in peace talk efforts. But there’s no end in sight yet.
When Daesh seized control of land in Syria they started to use social media to target vulnerable people over here and groom them into joining their terrorist aims. Some young people from the UK have even traveled to Syria.
Back in 2015, three schoolgirls from Bethnal Green flew to Syria to join Daesh. Kadiza Sultana, Shamima Begum and Amira Abase were all 15 at the time and had been brainwashed by Daesh to travel to join them.
It shocked the local community and the entire country. How could these bright girls do something so stupid and dangerous?
Soon after, the news came in that Kadiza Sultana has been killed. Her family was devastated.
The war in Syria has affected so many people around the world – and right here in the UK.
We all pray that it will soon end. So many millions of men, women and children have suffered so much.