The mental health of children in the camps of northern Syria

It was ten years of war that had a serious impact on children. The war, which brought death, displacement, and horrific memories to their lives left unhealed wounds on their mental health.

What are the risks of deteriorating mental health in children?

As a result of crises and wars, children suffer from psychological problems that affect their behavior. It must be noted that children’s mental health is no less important than physical health, as psychological disorders lead to many problems, including problems in mood, behavior and way of thinking.

Children may suffer from some disorders resulting from the deterioration of their mental health, including “depression” and severe sadness, in addition to “anxiety and attention deficit” and other disorders that affect their learning abilities, in addition to eating disorders, autism spectrum, and enuresis.

These disorders are considered dangerous, especially for adolescents, as they push them to engage in some dangerous behaviors such as drug use, self-harm, and suicidal thinking, in addition to lack of sleep, aggression, lying and refusal to learn.

What are the factors that affect the mental health of children?

Many factors can negatively affect the mental health of children. Most notably, family problems, problems in dealing with friends, or being bullied.

In addition to these factors are poverty, poor financial situation, and a sense of fear caused by wars, in addition to illness or physical disability, ill-treatment, forcible change of residence, the death of loved ones, and other challenges.

Syrian children are vulnerable to psychological crises and the dangers of war

Children are one of the most vulnerable groups in society. In Syria, thousands of children are exposed to the dangers and effects of war, and during the period between March 2011 and 2021, according to the Syrian Network for Human Rights, 29,618 children were killed in Syria, while 181 children were killed under torture, and there are still 4,931 children forcibly disappeared. by the parties to the conflict.

In March 2021, “UNICEF” stated that 90% of children in Syria need support, as the Corona pandemic, the vicious cycle of violence, and the resulting economic crisis are pushing families into the abyss, adding that more than half a million children under the age of five suffer from dwarfism syndrome as a result of malnutrition, and that about 2.45 million children in Syria do not attend school, while the number of children who showed symptoms of psychological and social distress doubled in 2020 as a result of their exposure to violence, intense fear, and trauma.

And in May 2021, the British newspaper, “The Independent”, published a report quoting the Save the Children organization, the rise in the number of children who attempted suicide in northwest Syria, warning of a mental health crisis that would seriously affect children and the difficult conditions in which they live. Children, including poverty and violence, consider that these factors increase suicide attempts.

The newspaper quoted a mental health specialist at the “Hurras Network”, an organization affiliated with ‘Save the Children’ in northern Idlib, as saying that 15% of adult patients have suicidal thoughts, while children express their emotional struggles through their aggressive behavior or tendency to isolate or retaliate.

In a previous report, Save the Children said that the next generation in Syria will grow up suffering from psychological and neurological disorders, as 89% of children in Syria suffer from spiritual wounds that are difficult to heal, and added that 84% of Syrian children suffer from stress, and 81% Of them, they became more aggressive, while 71% of them suffer from enuresis due to psychological crises.

Children with their forcibly displaced families live in camps in northwestern Syria in very difficult humanitarian conditions, as those displaced, who number approximately 1.6 million, including approximately 680,000 children, live in densely populated areas and in camps that lack the most necessities of life.

In conjunction with these crises, the camp residents are currently experiencing a difficult health crisis following a new wave of the Coronavirus “Covid-19” in fear that these camps will turn into a hotbed in which the pandemic will spread after the increase of the number of daily infections and the deficiency of projects related to hygiene, sanitation, and drinking water.

Children also suffer from difficulty receiving education, as most of these camps do not contain schools or educational centers, and the United Nations Children’s Fund “UNICEF” estimates the number of children out of school at 3.2 million children, while the Support Coordination Unit says that 1127 camps in the north do not contain schools, and it is difficult for parents to provide education for their children.

In addition to many problems, including the loss of one of the parents, as thousands of children in the camps live with one of the parents or without both after losing them due to the war, in addition to displacement, poverty, and poor living conditions as the main reason for the deterioration of the mental health of children.

Violet’s response to support children’s mental health in northwestern Syria

Violet organization seeks, through its projects, to support the mental health of children, especially in the camps, in order to respond to children suffering from mental disorders, which have been exacerbated by war, displacement and poverty.

The number of children who received at least 5 sessions of psychosocial support sessions in the city of Idlib reached 1,325 children through Violet Protection’s projects, which include psychosocial support activities, where children are provided with recreational activities in the targeted sites by PSS facilitators who use many PSS activities.

 

(1) UNICEF

(2) The Syrian Network for Human Rights

(3) The Independent newspaper

 

For more information or interview requests, please contact: [email protected]

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