Actor Michael Sheen who serves as Unicef UK ambassador recently returned from a trip to Lebanon and Jordan, where he met children that have been affected by the region’s ongoing conflict. In the video you can see what Michael has to say about his visit. It is estimated that as many as 3.7 million children from Syria have been born since the conflict first started over five years ago. This means the only things they have ever known is violence, fear and displacement.
“It’s absolutely heartbreaking to think that millions of Syrian children have known nothing but war, death and destruction their entire lives,” said Michael. “As a father, meeting children and families who have fled Syria and just hearing their stories was incredibly moving, so I can’t begin to imagine the impact on the children themselves.”
“I met children like Omaymah, who was forced to flee her home in Syria and now lives in a refugee camp in Jordan. Just 13 years old, Omaymah now tirelessly campaigns for girls’ education, and works with her friends to warn young girls in the camp of the dangers of child marriage.”
“I was inspired by the courage, hope and optimism of Omaymah and the other children I met. It is children like Omaymah and her friends who are Syria’s future, and we must do all we can to help them rebuild their lives. Ensuring all Syrian children have access to the education and protection they so rightly deserve is the first step on this journey. That’s why protecting children and the schools that keep them safe must be a priority when the world responds to emergencies. It’s time for us to do all we can to give Syrian children the chance of a brighter future.”
Unicef working to keep children safe
Unicef is one of the few aid agencies working to keep children who live in Syria and counties that neighbour it, safe. It is estimated that 80 per cent of Syria’s population of children or 8.4 million kids are directly impacted by the war, either as refugees in neighbouring countries or within Syria itself. Unicef’s Regional Director for the Middle East Dr Peter Salma says that violence is now common throughout Syria, in homes, hospitals, parks, clinics and places of worship. Millions of children are living in poverty which means their childhood is one deprivation and loss.