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U.N. report: Refugee children suffering as Syrian civil war continues

Nov. 29, 2013 at 12:19 PM
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GENEVA, Switzerland, Nov. 29 (UPI) -- Children whose families have fled the civil war in Syria could become "lasting casualties of an appalling war," a United Nations official said Friday.

"The Future of Syria -- Refugee Children in Crisis," a report released by U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres, describes children in refugee camps working long hours for low pay to help their families survive and being denied education. Researchers said children as young as 7 in camps in Jordan and Lebanon are being put to work.

"If we do not act quickly, a generation of innocents will become lasting casualties of an appalling war," Guterres said.

The report said that more than 1 million Syrian children have already become refugees. Many of the children born in refugee camps do not have birth certificates, putting them at risk for being stateless in the future.

While the researchers found half of the families surveyed in camps in Jordan had a child working, 29 percent of the children said they leave their homes no more than once a week. That means spending almost all their time in a tent, tiny apartment or shack, isolated from the world.

Boys are also being trained to return to Syria to fight, the report said.

Actress Angelina Jolie, a U.N. special envoy, called for action to help the young refugees.

"The world must act to save a generation of traumatized, isolated and suffering Syrian children from catastrophe," she said.

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