Crossroads: Syrian children’s rights and the World Refugee Forum – Syrian Arab Republic

Based on a World Vision literature review of child protection and education commitments by international actors selected at the 2019 Global Refugee Forum (GRF), this briefing highlights failure without ambiguity of the main Syrian actors to meet the protection needs of Syrian children. World Vision calls on all world actors and leaders gathered at the Senior Officials Meeting to ensure that the growing needs of Syrian children, in Syria and in host communities, are not overlooked. For the millions of Syrian refugee children, returning to their country is not an option and will not be for years to come. Syrian children are at the breaking point. The meeting of senior officials should be a turning point to prioritize and meet their needs.


The GRF of December 2019 was hailed as an unprecedented step in increasing support, efforts and action for refugees, communities and the countries that host them. It was the first time that some 3,000 government, donor and civil society representatives gathered to discuss the needs of 79.5 million forcibly displaced people, including 26 million refugees; committing to develop durable and durable solutions to support the implementation of the Global Compact on Refugees (GCR). In 2019, 25% of those seeking refuge were from the Syrian Arab Republic (Syria). Two years later, the number of people fleeing conflict, violence and climate change topped 84 million in the first half of 2021, with the number of refugees reaching nearly 21 million women, men, girls and boys.

The GRF took place in a context of solidarity crisis, with a political blockage at the origin of the migration crisis in Europe, which hardened its migration policies and relied on countries outside the Union. to enforce the measures in this direction. In addition, Turkey marked three years of its historic agreement with the European Union (EU), whereby the government would take measures to prevent the opening of new migration routes in order to limit the number of arrivals of asylum seekers. asylum after hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants. had transited to reach EU soil. Additionally, 2019 marked the grim 8th anniversary of the Syrian conflict which led to the largest refugee and displacement crisis in modern history.

When the GRF took place, the protection needs of Syrian children were already neglected and underfunded. “Donor fatigue” set in during the crisis, leading to cuts in funding for life-saving assistance to Syrian refugees despite their growing humanitarian needs, both inside and outside Syria. New refugee crises have also arisen, for example in Central America, making Syria a less acute priority for donors.

As world leaders prepare to gather for the Senior Officials Meeting, a stocktaking event where progress and challenges in implementing the Refugee Commitments will be discussed and which aims to foster enduring state engagement. and a key player in refugee crises, Syria remains the country with the largest number of internationally displaced people (6.8 million) for whom pervasive violence in their country continues to make safe returns impossible. security. Returning Syrian refugees face serious human rights violations, including torture, arbitrary detention, kidnappings, extrajudicial killings and sexual violence. They also struggle to survive and meet their basic food and other basic needs. Syrian children are suffering immense trauma, with recent reports telling horrific tales of violations of children’s rights, including torture, sexual violence, arbitrary detention and unlawful killings. In addition, Syrian children are denied humanitarian access, endangering their survival. In April 2021, the United Nations Secretary-General reported that there had been 137 confirmed incidents of denial of humanitarian access between July 2018 and June 2020. 49 of these incidents were attacks on facilities, personnel and transport humanitarian aid and 42 were cases of deliberate denial of humanitarian access. The report also pointed out that schools had been targeted, hampering access to education for Syrian children, with 90 schools attacked and 30 more used by military groups in just two years.

COVID-19 has further exacerbated the needs of Syrian children, who need them more than ever, both in Syria and in host countries. In Syria, the worst wave of COVID-19 hit the country in October 2021 and has spread since, with children whose health needs are already severely reduced due to limited access to hospitals and medical care, becomes even more vulnerable.

Faced with an increasingly alarming situation for the Syrian population, it is now clearly recognized that the only option available to refugees and internally displaced persons is to stay where they are. For Syrian refugee children, hope for a safe haven remains a distant option, “an impossible dream,” Syrian children told us, who now face enormous protection challenges. In summary, the needs of Syrian children now far exceed their needs two years ago when the GRF took place.

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