Save The Children in Syria: "Unfortunately we often see children dying; we rarely see them targeted"

The Save The Children CEO on why humanitarian aid must be allowed access to Syria

Share
Related Topics

I have found myself in some of the most desperately sad and frustrating situations in my line of work. None more so than earlier this week standing on the roof of a school on the Lebanon border with Syria watching the sickening sight of shells landing on Homs and Al Quasyr.

Seconds after the strike the smoke billowed and I was left fearing the worst: individuals killed or maimed; families torn apart and left homeless.

But it is not until you speak to the children that the true horror is brought home. Youngsters who have borne witness to atrocities no one should ever see tell of the suffering and brutal reality of the war in Syria.

Stories like that of 13 year-old Majed who talked about how a machine gun mounted on a tank shot 15 people on the street where he stood. He explained to me how he saw his best friend die on the way to a funeral after he was shot in the back, describing how the bullet came through his tummy and how the hole it left couldn’t be covered with both his hands.

Stories like that of the family of four children I sat with who said their parents had been kidnapped and were still missing. Or the little girl I met who had survived 60 days of bombing - during the fiercest onslaught, her uncle told me, a shell fell on the homes of their friends and neighbours every second.

I’m sorry to say these stories aren’t one-offs. Thousands of children coming across the border have similar tales of anguish, turmoil and hurt none of us can imagine. They speak of snipers on the roof tops of their homes, tanks rolling down streets where they once played and sleeping in the fields to avoid nightly shelling.

The children affected by the war are severely traumatised: they wet their beds, their sleep is broken by nightmares and some have started self-harming. They are desperate, frightened and all too often alone.

Save the Children is doing whatever it takes, both inside Syria and in neighbouring countries, to give children and their families the basics they need to survive. In Iraq, Lebanon, Egypt and Jordan we are helping to support thousands of families - providing food, clothing, shelter and education for children and families who are facing extremely difficult conditions. Our specialist teams are also helping children to overcome their traumatic experiences through emotional support and play therapy.

Along with our partners, we have already reached more than 600,000 people across the region, including 360,000 children. Our teams are working flat out but we cannot scale up our efforts to meet the growing need without additional funding.

The world can do more. We need more aid. We need humanitarian access – cross-border and cross-line. We need a political solution. As horrible as the chemical attacks were - and there can be no doubt they were a crime - the on-going war is killing many, many more.

As a humanitarian agency we don’t take sides. We want to work with all children that need help and we need to see that international law is upheld throughout Syria, on all sides.

Unfortunately, Save the Children often encounters situations where children are dying – through war or natural disaster. But it’s not often we see children targeted. Last week I asked the children I met why they think they’re being targeted. Their answer was truly terrifying: “Because we’re told we are the future.”

Standing on the roof of that school, a hundred metres from the border, it felt like Syria is losing a generation and what’s at stake now is the future of an entire country. We desperately need a way of protecting children.

Our message to the international community is simple: even if you can’t agree on anything else, surely you must agree that Save the Children and other humanitarian agencies must have total access to help those most in need.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £45,000

£18000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive is required t...

Recruitment Genius: Test Development Engineer

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you inspired to bring new a...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Motor Engineer

£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Technical Administrator

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company are a world leadin...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Nick Clegg (R) Liberal Democrat Leader and former leader Charles Kennedy MP, joined the general election campaign trail on April 8, 2010  

Charles Kennedy: The only mainstream political leader who spoke sense

Tim Farron
 

The strangely parallel lives of Oliver Letwin and Ed Miliband

Matthew Norman
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific
In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

Dame Colette Bowe - interview
When do the creative juices dry up?

When do the creative juices dry up?

David Lodge thinks he knows
The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

Fashion's Cher moment

Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

Health fears over school cancer jab

Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

Weather warning

Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

High hopes for LSD

Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
German soldier who died fighting for UK in Battle of Waterloo should be removed from museum display and given dignified funeral, say historians

Saving Private Brandt

A Belgian museum's display of the skeleton of a soldier killed at Waterloo prompts calls for him to be given a dignified funeral