As the crisis in Syria enters its second decade, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has surveyed 1,400 Syrians aged 18-25 living in Syria, Lebanon and Germany. The survey shows that important issues that young people mentioned are being torn apart from families and friends, economic hardship, anxiety, aimlessness, and psychological impacts of years of violence and disruption.
It also reveals the endurance millions of people faced during the past decade including:
- In Syria, 4% of young people said their relatives or friends have been killed in the conflict. Within this number, 16% said at least one of their parents was killed or seriously injured, and a further 12% had themselves been injured in the conflict.
- 54% had lost contact with their relatives. In Lebanon, the number rises to seven in ten.
- 62% have to leave their homes, either in Syria or abroad.
- 49% had lost their income because of the conflict, and 77% struggled to do their jobs. In Syria, the number rises to 85%.
- 57% of young people have to stop their education.
- One in five have to postpone their marriage plans because of the conflict.
Mr. Robert Mardini, Geneva-based Director General of the ICRC, said “This has been a decade of savage loss for all Syrians. For young people in particular, the last ten years were filled with loss of loved ones, opportunities and even their own future. This survey is like a simulated image of a generation who lost their youth to the conflict.”
Young people stated that what they want the most are economic opportunities and jobs, followed by access to public health, education, and psychological support. Women were hard-hit economically, with almost 30% in Syria having no income to support their family at all. Young Syrians in Lebanon named humanitarian assistance as what they need most.
Psychological impacts were obviously found. During the past year, young Syrians have experienced anxiety (73%), stress (69%), frustration (62%), depression (58%), sleep disorders (54%), and loneliness (46%). Young Syrians living in Syria, Lebanon and Germany in this ICRC’s survey listed psychological support as one of their top needs.
Mr. Fabrizio Carboni, the Geneva-based Regional Director for the Middle East, said “These young people have been suffering for more than two decades. The worst point in their situation is losing their childhood and youth to the violence. This generation is likely to shoulder the responsibility and work of reconstruction. Their childhood will be marked by the conflict.
The conflict in Syria is unforgettable brutality for civilians. It was full of images of destroyed cities and towns on a vast scale, massive displacement, and a refugee crisis that has shaken the world. In the past year, millions of people were faced with poverty as they were affected by the economic crisis caused by the conflict, the impact of sanctions and the COVID-19 pandemic. This makes 13.4 million out of 18 million citizens need humanitarian assistance. However, the survey also shows that these young people are still hopeful with the future. Their hopes for the next decade are safety, stability, a chance to have family and a well-paid job, access to affordable healthcare services, and an end of the conflict.