Survey reveals harrowing impact of war on young Syrians

One in two young Syrians have lost a loved one, ICRC report reveals
3 min read
10 March, 2021
A harrowing report offers an urgent insight into the struggles
The report surveyed 1,400 Syrians, including those displaced in Lebanon and Germany [Getty]
A new report by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has further exposed the devastating impact of the country’s war on young Syrians.

The ICRC report surveys 1,400 Syrians aged 18 to 25, whose "adolescence and early adulthood have been deeply marked by the conflict".

Syria's war broke out in early 2011, following anti-government demonstrations that were brutally suppressed by President Bashar Al-Assad's forces. The ensuing decade-long war has killed hundreds of thousands and displaced millions, with Russia and Iran enabling Assad to regain power over most of the country.

The report covers the experiences of young Syrians both within the country and those in displacement. Of those surveyed, 800 live in Syria, 400 in Lebanon and 200 in Germany. Crucial issues, including displacement and social connection, economic security, access to education, health, and mental health, are covered in its findings.

In all groups surveyed, eight out of ten reported enduring periods of "no or very limited access to basic necessities."

The interviews with young Syrians also illustrated the long-term implications of the crippling economic insecurity they face. Ahmad, a Syrian refugee in Lebanon, recalls having more money aged ten than he does now, aged 24.

Over half of those interviewed had to abandon their education, often a sacrifice made by households struggling to meet their basic needs.

At the same time, the report highlights unfortunate discrepancies in the experiences of displaced Syrians. While three-quarters of young Syrians in Lebanon had been educated to primary level, 90 percent of those in Germany have reached secondary level or higher.

Read also: A verbatim transcript of Koblenz trial is a must for Syrian justice

Similarly, it offers troubling insight into the depth of emotional and mental trauma experienced by young Syrians.

Within Syria, nearly half of those surveyed had lost a member of their immediately family or close friend in the war. Among those living in Germany or Lebanon, one in five has had one or both of their parents killed or seriously injured during the conflict.

Two out of three young Syrians have experienced anxiety in the past year, and over half have struggled with depression and sleeping disorders. Very few have been able to receive medical treatment.

Fabrizio Carboni, the ICRC's regional director for the Near and Middle East, suggested those surveyed were young Syrians forced to deal with their "second decade" of their country's crisis

"What is so poignant about their situation is that, having lost much of their childhood and teenage years to the violence, this generation will likely shoulder much of the responsibility and work of reconstruction. Their children's lives will be marked by this conflict, too," Carboni said.

Despite the challenges of the last decade, the report offers positive signs on how young Syrians view their future. It notes that despite the distinct plight of young Syrians living in the three countries in the survey sample, all appeared "united in their hopes for future".

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