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Almost 5 million children born into war in Syria

As the conflict enters its 10th year, millions of children are entering their second decade of life surrounded by war, violence, death and displacement.

Some 4.8 million children were born in Syria since the conflict began nine years ago. An additional 1 million were born as refugees in neighbouring countries. And children continue to face the devastating consequences of a brutal war.

“The war in Syria marks yet another shameful milestone today,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore who was in Syria last week. “As the conflict enters its 10th year, millions of children are entering their second decade of life surrounded by war, violence, death and displacement. The need for peace has never been more pressing.”

Syria | ©Unicef/UNI296647
Syria | ©Unicef/UNI296647

Nour, 11, sits in a van waiting as her family is preparing to leave her village in Atarib due to escalating violence in northwest Syrian Arab Republic.

According to verified data from 2014, when official monitoring began, until 2019:

  • More than 9,000 children were killed or injured in the conflict

  • Close to 5,000 children – some as young as seven – were recruited into the fighting

  • Nearly 1,000 education and medical facilities came under attack.

As these are just the verified numbers, the true impact of this war on children is likely to be more profound.

Syria | ©Unicef/UNI296659
Syria | ©Unicef/UNI296659

A boy stands at the entrance of a tent at an informal settlement in the Syrian Arab Republic, near the Turkish border.

In northwest Syria, the escalation in armed conflict, combined with harsh winter conditions and plummeting temperatures, on top of an already dire humanitarian crisis, have exacted a heavy toll on hundreds of thousands of children and families. More than 960,000 people, including more than 575,000 children, have been displaced since 1st December 2019.

In the northeast, at least 28,000 children from more than 60 countries remain languishing in displacement camps, deprived of the most basic services. Only 765 children have been repatriated to their countries of origin as of January this year.

Syria | ©Unicef/UNI285797
Syria | ©Unicef/UNI285797

Across Syria and surrounding countries, children living in informal camps are in desperate need of food, water, vaccines, clothing and shelter. This is especially important during the harsh winter months, where many children will face dangerously cold temperatures unprotected.

Wider impacts of almost a decade of conflict include:

  • Two in five schools cannot be used because they are destroyed, damaged, sheltering displaced families or being used for military purposes

  • Over half of all health facilities are non-functional

  • More than 2.8 million children are out of school inside Syria and in neighbouring countries

  • Over two-thirds of children with physical or mental disabilities require specialised services that are unavailable in their area

  • Prices of basic items have increased 20-fold since the war began


Nour, 16, stands in her war-ravaged and now partially inhabited neighbourhood of Karm Al-zaitoun in Homs city, Syria.

“The warring parties and those supporting them have failed to end the carnage in Syria,” Fore said. “Our message is clear: Stop hitting schools and hospitals. Stop killing and maiming children. Grant us the crossline and cross-border access we need to reach those in need. Far too many children have suffered for far too long.”

Syria | ©Unicef/UNI306328
Syria | ©Unicef/UNI306328

On 25th February 2020, a school being used as a shelter for internally displaced people in Maaret Mesrin in Idlib province, northern rural idlib is destroyed after a wave of attacks.

UNICEF works with a wide network of partners inside Syria and in neighbouring countries to provide aid to children. Just last year UNICEF was able to reach:

  • Nearly 750,000 children with routine immunization or vaccination against measles

  • Over 1 million children with psychosocial support

  • Nearly 3 million children with formal and non-formal education

  • Over 5.3 million people with safe water through improvements to water supply systems

  • Nearly 2 million people with water, sanitation and hygiene facilities and sanitation services.

Syria | ©Unicef/UNI278319
Syria | ©Unicef/UNI278319

Children attend a UNICEF-supported class in their tent-turned-school at the remote Atmeh makeshift camp, north rural Idlib, Syria.

“The only solution to the crisis in Syria is through diplomatic means,” said Ted Chaiban, UNICEF Regional Director for UNICEF in the Middle East. “Humanitarian assistance will not end the war – but it will help keep children alive. We count on the generous support of our donors to keep supporting the children of Syria, despite all the other crises taking place in the region and around the world.”

UNICEF will never give up on vulnerable children. And we will keep supporting Syrian children long after the war has stopped. Please donate now and help build a brighter future for Syrian children.