Syria: Traumatized children and the lost future

Syria: Traumatized children and the lost future

As the battle of Aleppo ended on Tuesday with the rebel resistance being broke after years of fighting and months of bitter siege and bombardment, the dire consequences of the conflict in Aleppo and whole Syria show its clear traces on the future of this country: its children.

The Assad regime forces, backed by Russian air power, Iranian ground forces and Shi’ite militia fighters from Iran, Iraq, and Lebanon, has been tightening its grip on rebel-held districts of Aleppo since the start of this year.

They have gradually closed in on eastern Aleppo this year, first cutting the most direct lifeline to Turkey before fully encircling the east, and launching a major assault in September that killed hundreds of civilians but was blocked by the rebels.

On November 15, the regime started a wide military operation to force control again over the rebel-held areas and were able to retrieve 85% of the region, and then forcing control over the whole city with a ceasefire agreement.

Civilians were directly affected by the operations as more than 1500 civilians died since September. Helicopters continue extensively dropping barrel bombs in conjunction with airstrikes by warplanes on areas in the eastern neighborhoods of the city, accompanied by artillery shelling.

Assad regime bombardment targeted the vital point in Aleppo, the hospitals, and civil defense centers. After heavy bombardment no hospitals were left in eastern Aleppo, adding a new suffer and making the victims’ numbers increase.

The complete absence of medical care, starvation forced by the siege and daily bombardment led hundreds of civilians to slow tragic death, and the remaining ones including the children were waiting their turn.

These events left its traces on the children of Aleppo, traces that will not be easily wiped and will affect their personality and the whole  future of the country.

The UN children’s agency said on Sunday that all children in Syria’s battered Aleppo are suffering from trauma after enduring some of the worst violence in their country’s war

“All children in Aleppo are suffering. All are traumatized,” Radoslaw Rzehak, UNICEF’s field office head in Aleppo, told AFP inside the devastated city.

“I have never seen in my life such a dramatic situation [as] what is happening to children in Aleppo,” said Rzehak, who has been working for UNICEF for the past 15 years.

Rzehak estimated that half a million children in Aleppo need some kind of psychological and social support, including 100,000 who need more specialized assistance.

The city’s east had been an opposition stronghold since mid-2012, but Assad terrorists in recent weeks have overrun more than 90 percent of that area. Syria

Rzehak said preliminary psycho-social assessments at these centers showed children from east Aleppo were “losing their basic instinct of defense.”

“Some of the children who are five, six years old, they were born during a time when war was already happening. All they know is war and bombing,” he said.

“For them, it’s normal that they are being bombed, that they have to escape, it’s normal that they are hungry, that they have to hide in the bunkers. This trauma is going to last for a very, very long time.”

The war has even undermined the ability of parents to care for their children as they struggled with their own trauma.

“It’s very difficult to blame them. They also went through the nightmare,” Rzehak said. Syria

The children in Aleppo resemble all the children in Syria: Children who were born and raised in the time of war, lost their homes, lost their family members, suffered disabilities or fatal injuries, lost their education, and lost their childhood.

If the war isn’t stopped, the chances of helping them recover will be close to zero, and the future of the whole country will be lost.

The Syrian crisis began as a peaceful demonstration against the injustice in Syria. Assad regime used to fire power and violence against the civilians and led to armed resistance. 450.000 Syrians lost their lives in the past five years according to UN estimates, and more than 12 million have lost their homes.