UNICEF Meeting This Week on the Future of Syrian Children

By Jay Ng for The Guardian

UNICEF delegates will meet up between 29th November and 1st
December 2013 to discuss the pressing issues facing Syrian children
and child refugees. With the conflict going on in its third year, the
entire Syrian children generation is at stake with issues such as food,
water, shelter, medicine, and education.

These conditions have caused over 2 million children being homeless
within Syria, as well as a large number of them fled their homeland
to other countries such as Turkey, Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon and Iraq.
There, child refugees face other threats of child labor, early marriage,
domestic violence, sexual exploitation, and trafficking. Tensions also
arise between the refugee and local population, as they compete
against each other for mid- to low wages jobs. UNICEF has been
carrying out actions to avoid Syria’s children from becoming a lost
generation.

UNICEF has partnered with UNHCR to launch the largest
humanitarian operation in history, spending over US$5 billion on
education, healthcare and other services for affected families and
children in host communities. The meetings will be focusing on the
possibilities to expand UNICEF’s actions in the aforementioned
aspects.

Delegates will likely to be facing tensions in discussions, as Syria’s
immediate neighbors are under the influx of refugees in comparison
to other nations. Recently, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees,
António Guterres has identified Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Iraq as
being ‘stretched to their limits’ by the burden from the increasing
number of Syrian refugees, and thereby calling on the rest of the
international community to share the burden.

Notably, conflicts will also arise to states such as Iraq and Egypt, as
they are in an intersection with their domestic problems, refugee
capacities as well as foreign policy disputes with critical countries like
the United States and UK. Delegates have to cooperate and decide on
further actions to ease the burden on these states.

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