A short editorial by Sophie Perreard, director of emergency response for Save the Children in Beirut. She discusses the need to address the welfare of refugees fleeing Syria.
The July 18 news article “An exile that seems endless” did a good job of providing a window into the lives of Syrian refugees. The article hinted at a troubling trend: the deep psychological scarring of children that can happen in a war zone.
Thousands of children have seen atrocities that will haunt them for years. Here in Lebanon, refugee children are showing psychosocial distress symptoms such as fear of loud voices, an unwillingness to socialize with other children, nightmares and, in some cases, a refusal to speak. Despite the great needs and media attention to the crisis, the funding is lacking for programs to address critical issues central to children’s welfare in the refugee camps and host families.
The U.S. government must make more funds and resources available to meet the needs of refugee children. Equally important, the international community and humanitarian organizations must plan for an influx of refugees — especially scores of children — in the coming weeks. If we don’t do it, thousands of children could suffer.
Sophie Perreard, Beirut
The writer is deputy director of emergency response for Save the Children.