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Children in the Syrian Civil War

Study documents effects of conflict on children after 4 years

Society for Disaster Medicine and Public Health

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IMAGE: Figure 2 shows the proportion of problems and unmet needs encountered among Syrian children (percentage). view more

Credit: SDMPH

In any conflict children are among the worst affected groups, and in the Syrian Civil War the long term health and welfare of children will be greatly impacted due to the lack of access to immunization programs, little or no formal education, and in many cases missing both parents.

A study by Elsafti et al, details the problems currently experienced by the children and raises concerns about the long term impact these problems will have not only on children within the Syrian border, but also on surrounding countries.

According to the corresponding author, Gerlant van Berlaer, emergency pediatrician of the disaster research group in Brussels, the current critical situation of the Syrian children will leave its traces in the coming decades. One in five children does not have a home anymore, but is forced into temporary shelters, with insufficient access to safe drinking water, to proper sanitation, lacking healthy food needed for their physical and mental growth. There are literally no pediatricians left to watch over the children's immunizations and health. In the last five years, more than 300000 Syrian children have been born as IDP's or refugees, and most of them are not vaccinated at all. Two thirds of the children examined in our study showed signs of infectious diseases. Our findings, in line with UNICEF and WHO reports, raise serious concerns about the protection of Syrian children against malnutrition, preventable infections and epidemics in these austere circumstances. Not only inside Syria, but also in the surrounding and Western countries, where millions are in search for the refugee status today.

Syrian children - the nation's last hope for a better future - are among the most vulnerable victims of the war: they have lost loved ones, suffered injuries, missed years of education, and witnessed violence and brutality. With more than half of them having no access to education, two thirds not having access to pediatric health care, the future of Syria will be jeopardized for decades to come.

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About the Journal

Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness is the first comprehensive and authoritative journal emphasizing public health preparedness and disaster response for all health care and public health professionals globally. The journal seeks to translate science into practice and integrate medical and public health perspectives. DMPHP is an official journal of the Society for Disaster Medicine and Public Health, and is produced by Cambridge University Press.

About the Society

The Society for Disaster Medicine and Public Health aims to evolve a discipline around disaster medicine and public health. The society's goal is to improve global health security, with the involvement and development of global health professionals and others who are involved in responding to and or managing significant events. The mission of the SDMPH is to advance and promote excellence in education, training and research in disaster medicine and public health for all potential health system responders based on sound educational principles, scientific evidence and best clinical and public health practices.

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