Sifting through ripped up textbooks and writing on broken whiteboards, Syrian children returned to a dilapidated small-town school.
The conflict in Syria has raged for nearly six years, leaving 13.5 million people in need of urgent life-saving assistance, including 6 million children. UNICEF has been on the ground in Syria throughout the conflict, providing children with access to clean water and sanitation, medical supplies, health, nutrition and education, among other things. No matter how desperate the situation, we remain undeterred in our mission to put children first.
It is a difficult number to fathom — still 500,000 children living in besieged areas — the number has doubled in less than one year. Living in terror among air strikes and barrel bombs, growing up to the sounds of soldiers and warring factions on their streets, they have seen their houses, schools and playgrounds destroyed, and, unfortunately, many of them have lost family and friends. As these children sit in dark basements, reading and writing by candlelight, they might still believe in a world that cares enough to stop their suffering. We need to ensure that these children stay alive, but equally important, we need to protect that flicker of hope.