After ten years of war, the vast majority of Syria’s children cannot imagine a future in their country, according to a new report by Save the Children. On average, 86% of Syrian refugee children surveyed in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and the Netherlands said they would not want to return to their country of origin .

In brief:

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10 years of war These days mark the 10th anniversary of the outbreak of the Syrian conflict. According to UNHCR, more than 6.5 million Syrians have fled their homes.

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No return to Syria More than 80% of Syrian children between 13 and 17 who have fled abroad no longer see their future in Syria - this is shown by a survey we conducted.

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No education Only about half of the children surveyed can go to school or have access to lessons.

“The ten-year war has cost young people in Syria their childhood. Now the world must not allow them to be robbed of their future as well,” says Adrian Förster, CEO of Save the Children Switzerland. He says the conflict has made children fearful and pessimistic about building a life in a war-torn country.

The Anywhere but Syria report is Save the Children’s most comprehensive survey to date. It surveyed 1900 Syrian children between the ages of 13 and 17 in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and the Netherlands. In addition, short interviews were conducted with parents and caregivers. For the first time, the study investigates how the children’s environment, their experiences and their access to educational opportunities and social participation influence their perception of safety inside and outside Syria.


children between the ages of 13 and 17 in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and the Netherlands were interviewed.

The report finds that, of those interviewed:

  • Only 3% of the children surveyed in Turkey, 9% in Jordan and the Netherlands, and 29% in Lebanon want to return to Syria;
  • For children across all countries, an end to violence in Syria (26%) was most frequently mentioned when asked about their biggest wish for the future, followed by education (18%);
  • 44% of all children in the study had experienced discrimination in their neighbourhood or in school. Inside Syria, 58% reported being discriminated against;
  • Within the same sample, 42% of respondents were not attending school, with only 31% having access to learning in Lebanon, and less than half (49%) in Jordan.

Three children - three war stories

Lara (7) and her family were forced to leave their home due to the escalation of violence and attacks. When Lara learned that she would be leaving home, she packed her toys in a bag and carried them with her during her escape. She decided never to open the bag of toys until the family would be back home. Today, the family lives in a refugee camp in northwest Syria. Lara is now able to attend the Save the Children learning centre and hopes to become a teacher one day.

Yousef (13), lost his father, brothers and twin sisters in the conflict. The family used to live in the countryside in Aleppo, now they live in a refugee camp in north-eastern Syria. Yousef was very shy at first, but after being accepted into Save the Children's temporary learning space and Child Friendly Space in the camp, he began to open up and met his current best friend Anas. Yousef's dream is to become a doctor - like his late brother.

Ziad (10) had to leave his village with his family when it was bombed. He could not go to school for a year. Due to the poor economic situation, Zaid started an education and worked under difficult conditions for a poor wage. Thanks to Save the Children, Zaid and his brother can go back to school. His wish is to go to university so that he can become a doctor.

“Girls and boys suffer from not being able to go to school. The tenth anniversary of the Syrian war reminds us all to be more human and responsible across borders.”

Save the Children is calling on all stakeholders to protect Syria’s children from the physical and psychological violence that has been plaguing their lives for the last 10 years. Syrian children have a right to grow up in an environment where they are free from constant fear for their safety, are not forced to live in displacement and fear of further uprooting, and are no longer discriminated against simply because of where they come from. With our work in Switzerland and in Swiss asylum centres, we work every day to ensure that refugee children in Switzerland find an environment suitable for children and are better integrated into our society. Because every child deserves a future – whether in Switzerland or around the world.

The children's lives have been destroyed in every way, they have been uprooted, they no longer have a real sense of home - or were never able to develop one. Where fate has taken them, they often do not feel safe

Adrian Förster CEO of Save the Children Switzerland

The Report "Anywhere but Syria" "Anywhere but Syria" is the first study to provide insight into children's psychological and social safety. The study examines how children's environment, experiences and access to education and social participation influence their sense of security inside and outside Syria. pdf - 8,77 MB


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