The Syrian Crisis: Just because it isn’t here, doesn’t mean it isn’t happening

Imagine waking up to gunfire and explosions as your roof falls apart slowly above your head. You’ve eaten nothing but boxed and canned food for the past month, your water isn’t clean, and the last thing you care about is the dirt building up under your nails. You’ve dropped out of school and moved four times in the past year, one month spent living in a tent. Your distant family is lost in the crossfire of war, and you’re just trying to keep going until the next day; you never know when this whirlwind is going to end. You miss your home, your friends, your family, the glimmering idea of the future and what it holds. The idea of love and excitement in your life has been replaced with the engrained ideas of loss and grievance. You have been hardened, and your life will never be the same.

This is what it is like for someone exactly like you in Syria, and it is something that we don’t often take into perspective.

This one minute and 33 second video will visualize it for you..

What started off as an attempt to overthrow the government has turned into a seemingly endless uphill battle for Syria, a small country in the Middle East. The Arab Spring swarmed the Mediterranean a few years ago, and many countries were successful. Yet for Syria, it has been a grueling 5 years of “wars within wars”. An attempt to overthrow the Al-Assad regime, which has dictated the country for years, has given rise to many factions within the country; the purpose of the war being muddled, terrorist groups like ISIS had the opportunity to enter and wreak havoc amongst the conflict. Factions have begun to turn on factions, religions have begun to turn on religions, and fighters have been lashing out. Who are the victims of all this? The civilians.  Of these civilians, there are about 4.3 million innocent children facing the devastating impact of the conflict.

The war has reached its five-year mark. 1 in 3 Syrian children have only known war in their lifetime, a heartbreaking statistic. About 50,000 innocent civilian children have been killed in the chaos of the war, and the others will carry psychological burdens for the rest of their lives.

Many teens are subject to recruitment into battle or early marriage, the restrictions on their livelihood growing by the second. Fortunately, some have been able to find refuge in other countries where they are isolated by the stigma of being refugees and need to learn the language and customs of the country, as well as accept the fact that it is their new home.

It is all very difficult to hear, and something that we don’t hear about enough. Syria is a country that, unfortunately, is falling apart, with its youth turning into a lost generation. Reading something like this probably puts your problems in perspective; people have it much worse. I can personally admit, as someone whose parents are Syrian, that I don’t think of the Syrian children as much as I should. A fight with a friend or a bad grade makes me feel like the world is ending- as I am sure it does for many others- yet I have forgotten to think of my cousins and their friends who have had their entire worlds turned upside down. One cousin didn’t finish her senior year on time even though she had once been third in her class. Another cousin had to teach himself German and now studies in medical school in an unfamiliar country he barely knows.

As much as their situations suck, there are others who aren’t as lucky as they are and continue to suffer each day.

What can you do to help?

Many organizations have put in the efforts to help civilian Syrian children survive and thrive under such horrid conditions. One of the most successful organizations in the past five years has been UNICEF’s ‘No Lost Generation’ which is always open to efforts and donations. This link will direct you to UNICEF’s page where you can donate to help.