Children biggest victims of 10 years of war in Syria

World Vision

The economic cost of 10 years of war in Syria after is estimated to be more than $AU1.55 trillion,[1] according to a report by World Vision in partnership with Frontier Economics.

Tragically, the report also found that even if the war ended today, its cost will continue to accumulate to the tune of an extra $AU2.19 trillion (in today’s money) through to 2035.

The report, Too high a price to pay: The cost of conflict for Syria’s children, investigates the impact that 10 years of war has had on Syria’s economic growth and on its human capital, with a special focus on Syria’s children. It concludes that an entire generation has been lost to the conflict and indicates that children will bear the cost through lost education and health, preventing many from supporting the country’s recovery and economic growth once the war ends.

The report’s economic findings are accompanied by a World Vision survey of almost 400 Syrian children and young adults in Syria, Lebanon and Jordan revealing the harrowing human costs of conflict. The report conflict in Syria is one of the deadliest and most destructive for children, reducing children’s overall life expectancy by 13 years.

Around 82 per cent of children recruited by armed actors have been used in direct combat roles and 25 per cent of those have been under the age of 15 years. An estimated 55,000 children have been killed since the conflict began,[2] some by summary execution or torture.[3]

World Vision’s assessments in North West Syria found that every single girl interviewed lives with the fear of rape and sexual assault.[4] Child marriage, which can result in significant physical and psychological harm and abuse, has also increased to an alarming level[5]. All children interviewed appealed for one thing: peace.

World Vision International CEO Daniel Wordsworth said: “The world has stood by and allowed this conflict to rage for 10 years, robbing children of basic rights and preventing an entire generation of girls and boys from reaching their potential.

“I have met children, the victims of this conflict, whose lives have been shattered – loved ones killed, girls and boys out of school, begging on the streets and facing new threats of violence in the places they have fled to.”

The report confirms the findings of 2016 Cost of Conflict report by World Vision and Frontier Economics that warned of a total economic cost of more than $AU355 billion, projecting – in a worst-case scenario – to reach $AU1.68 trillion by 2020. The latest research shows the aid agency’s worst fears were correct, and that an additional cost of $AU1.8 trillion will continue to be borne through to 2035. On top of that, the negative impacts on children’s health and education bring this additional cost of war up to $2.19 trillion, in today’s money.

“Children come to us on a daily basis in Syria, hungry, cold and deeply distressed by what they have witnessed and experienced,” says Johan Mooij, World Vision Syria Response director.

“Boys and girls aged five or six can name every type of bomb by its sound, but sometimes can barely write their name, having missed out on the chance of an education. We cannot let them remain trapped in this cycle of violence. We must stop the war and the shadow pandemic of violence against children before it is too late,” Mr Mooij said. 

Too high a price to pay: The cost of conflict for Syria’s children’ states that peace, accompanied by an inclusive political solution to the crisis, is the only way to avoid further economic and human costs. Without it, Syrian children will continue to pay the price for adult failures.

Mr Wordsworth added that a lasting peace was the only viable solution for Syria’s children.

“The world has a moral responsibility to do everything in its power to make this happen. The economic costs are devastating, and children continue to pay the price. We need political will, financial support, and a collective passion for peace and security.

“We must act now to bring hope.”

/Public Release. This material comes from the originating organization and may be of a point-in-time nature, edited for clarity, style and length.