As Syrian Civil War Enters Eighth Year Caritas Australia Remains Committed

Rohingya Refugees

The crisis in Syria is now officially in its eighth year and throughout that time Caritas has maintained its support of the children who have been displaced by the civil war taking place in that country. The crisis is now so acute, it has become the largest displacement since the Second World War. Caritas Australia which is the international aid agency of the Catholic Church seeks to deliver some hope to children caught up in the conflict by providing education.

Before the war life was fine

One example of this is Bayan who is a 12-year-old girl who makes up one of the 5.6 million refugees from Syria who have sought sanctuary in neighbouring countries in the region. Bayan and her family currently live in Jordan, though she was born along with her six siblings in Syria’s capital Damascus. Her father used to work in construction whilst her mother was a homemaker. Bayan’s mother Hanan says before the outbreak of war, she and her family felt safe and led a comfortable life. She adds that prior to the war everything was fine, living expenses were affordable and her children could get an education.

Violence is endemic

The situation is nothing like that for the people who have chosen to remain in Syria. There are frequent outbreaks of violence such as in Eastern Ghouta where more than 800 people died recently and the threat to people’s lives is a constant one. The violence results in the destruction of schools and hospitals and ends up displacing or even tearing apart families. According to the World Health Organisation 37 per cent of Syria’s hospitals no longer function at all and 57 per cent have been damaged.

Trauma is being transferred

Suzy McIntyre, a spokesperson for Caritas says one area that is sometimes overlooked is the trauma faced by children who may not have personally witnessed the conflict for themselves but may experience the transfer of the severe effects of trauma faced by their older siblings and parents. Bayan is one of the lucky ones, she is one of 8,000 students who attend 25 Caritas run schools operating in Jordan. When it is safe her family hopes to return to Syria, nevertheless she remains committed to continuing her education no matter where she lives.

Caritas says Australian government support has been invaluable

Bayan says she hopes to become an ophthalmologist because our ability to see is the most important thing in our lives. She says had she not been able to see, she would not be able to read, write or learn. Caritas Australia says it grateful for the continuing support it receives from the Australian government through the Australian Humanitarian Partnership. The agency says the government support plays an important role in the success of its programs that help improve the lives of students such as Bayan.

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