The Refugee Crisis and Children
"The Syrian War is Creating a Generation of Traumatized Children," by Michelle Chen, The Nation, March 22, 2017
A new study by Save the Children, based on more than 450 interviews with adults and children across the country, reveals that six years of war have left a generation with massive invisible scars, as humanitarian aid efforts dwindle.
Following the war’s deadliest year for children so far, the attention of international aid authorities has focused primarily on delivering immediate relief. But “toxic stress” is wreaking untold havoc on children from the inside as well, according to researchers: “ongoing bombing and shelling is the number one cause of psychological stress in children’s daily lives.” About half of children “say they never or rarely feel safe at school and 40 percent say they don’t feel safe to play outside, even right outside their own home…. 78 percent of children feel grief and extreme sadness some or all of the time.”
Half a million school-age Syrian refugee children are registered in Lebanon and, although they are safe from war, they are now grappling with a lack of access to education and inadequate psychological care. Many have suffered extreme trauma, witnessing brutal violence and the loss of their homes, schools, friends and family members. Art therapy is one strategy for dealing with this unprocessed trauma.
"Syrian Doctor Coins New Term for Children's Extreme War-Trauma," in The New Arab, February 25, 2017
Syria's children of war have experienced more trauma, physical and emotional pain, than any medical professionals have seen.
The oft-orphaned children, who have had members of their family blown apart by a regime barrel bomb or a Russian cruise missile or even a US airstrike, are suffering more than just post-traumatic stress.
These children are suffering from "Human devastation syndrome," says Dr Mohammad K Hamza, a neuropsychologist with the Syrian-American Medical Society.