By ANAND JAUREGUILORDA, age 10
Imagine waking up to the sound of an explosion outside. You look out the window and see your neighbor’s house smoldering from the impact of a bomb. Millions of children in Syria have experienced this since civil war broke out in the country in 2011. That year, teenagers were tortured for painting revolutionary slogans on a school wall. The protests that followed escalated into a civil war that continues today. In Syria, more than 10,000 children have lost their lives to the war.
Twelve-year-old Camiran al-Ali, who grew up in Syria, was forced to flee with his family to Lebanon in October 2013. He told The Guardian, “I was scared of the bombs in Syria. I could hear them from the house and they fell nearby.”
More than 3.9 million refugees from Syria have crossed the borders into countries including Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Turkey and Egypt, looking for safety. More than half of these refugees are children.
Many child refugees from Syria are forced to work to help support their families. In Lebanon, 80 percent of working child refugees are laboring in the fields. The work is hard and is bad for children’s backs. Farmers know they can pay children less than they would pay adults. One Syrian refugee in Lebanon told Al Jazeera, “There are children who would work the whole day for $3.50 — just to buy bread.”
According to the United Nations Children’s Fund, 70 percent of child refugees from Syria in Lebanon alone do not attend school. Thirteen-year-old Hassan told The Guardian, “If we go to school, who would help our families?”
Refugees: people who have had to leave their homes because of war or other violence, environmental disasters or a bad economy that leaves them unable to get jobs or make enough money.