The mental health of children in the camps of northern Syria

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The past ten years have had a painful impact on children in Syria, one whose scars will continue to accompany them for many years. The war and its scourge, killing, displacement and the sounds of war weapons left in their souls wounds that are difficult to heal, and pains that destroyed their mental health.

What is the risk of poor mental health in children?

Children often suffer in crises and wars from psychological problems that change their behavior and increase the difficulties of life for them. Mental health of children is no less important than physical health, as psychological disorders cause many problems for the child, including problems in his mood, behavior and thinking.

The child may suffer from a range of disorders after his poor mental health, including “depression” and feeling sad, in addition to “anxiety and attention deficit” and many disorders that may appear on children, including mental disorders that affect his learning, eating disorders, autism spectrum and urinary incontinence.

These disorders are considered dangerous for some age groups, such as teens and young adults, as they push them to some dangerous behaviors such as drug abuse, self-harm and suicidal ideation, in addition to lack of sleep, aggression, refusal to learn, lying and sudden change in sleep and eating patterns.

What are the factors that negatively affect the mental health of children?

Many factors can negatively affect the mental health of children, and contribute to the emergence of psychological disorder for them, and the most prominent of these factors are family problems, family breakdown, problems in the relationship with family or friends, or the child's exposure to bullying.

In addition to these factors, poverty, poor material conditions, and feelings of insecurity such as fear resulting from wars, illness or physical disability, mistreatment and moving to live from one place to another, life changes or challenges, and the death or loss of loved ones.

Syrian children are vulnerable to psychological crises and the dangers of war

Children are considered among the most vulnerable groups in society. In Syria, tens of thousands of children were exposed to the dangers and effects of war. During the period between March 2011 and 2021, 29,618 children were killed in Syria, according to the Syrian Network for Human Rights, while they were killed due to torture. 181 children, and there are still 4,931 children forcibly disappeared at the hands of the parties to the conflict.

UNICEF said in March 2021 that 90% of children in Syria need support, as the Corona pandemic, violence and the economic crisis are pushing families into the abyss, adding that more than half a million children under five years of age in Syria suffer from stunting as a result of malnutrition, And that about 2.45 million children in Syria do not go to school, while the number of children who showed symptoms of psychological and social distress doubled in 2020 after being exposed to violence, intense fear and trauma.

And in May 2021, the British newspaper, The Independent, published a report in which it quoted the “Save the Children” organization, recording a rise in the number of children who attempted suicide in northwest Syria, warning of a mental health crisis that would seriously affect children and the difficult conditions that they face. Children in the region experience poverty, lack of job opportunities and violence, considering that these factors increase suicide attempts.

The newspaper quoted a mental health specialist at the Horace Network, affiliated with Save the Children in northern Idlib, as saying that 15% of adult patients have suicidal thoughts, while children express their emotional struggles through their aggressive behavior or tendency to isolate and retaliate.

In a previous report, Save the Children said that the next generation in Syria will grow up and suffer from psychological and neurological crises, as 89% of children in Syria suffer from psychological wounds that are difficult to heal, and added that 84% of Syrian children suffer from stress, and 81% Of them, they became more aggressive, while 71% of them suffer from involuntary urination due to psychological crises.

The mental health of children in the camps of northern Syria

Children forcibly displaced with their families to camps in northwestern Syria live in difficult humanitarian conditions and health and psychological crises, as those displaced, who number nearly 1.6 million, including approximately 680,000 children, live in densely populated areas and in camps that lack the least Necessities of life.

In conjunction with these crises, camp residents are currently experiencing a difficult health crisis after a new wave of the Corona virus “Covid-19” and for fear that these camps will turn into a hotbed in which the epidemic will spread after the increase in the number of daily infections with the virus and in light of the weakness of hygiene, sanitation and drinking water projects. .

Children also suffer from difficulties in receiving education, as most of these camps do not contain schools or educational centers, and the United Nations Children’s Fund “UNICEF” estimates the number of children out of school in Syria at 3.2 million children, while the Support Coordination Unit says that 1,127 camps In the north of Syria, there are no schools, amid the difficulty of parents in providing education for their children.

These crises are, in addition to many problems, including the loss of a parent, as thousands of children in IDP camps live with or without one of their parents after losing them due to the war, in addition to displacement, poverty and poor living conditions as a main reason for the poor mental health of children in IDP camps and their entry into psychological crises. big.

Violet’s response to support children’s mental health in northwestern Syria

Violet, through its projects, seeks to support the mental health of children in northwestern Syria, especially in the camps for the displaced, to respond to children suffering from psychological problems and crises, whose crises have been exacerbated by war, displacement and poverty.

The number of children who received at least 5 sessions of psychosocial support in the city of Idlib reached 1,325 children through Violet Protection projects, which include psychosocial support activities, where children are provided with recreational activities

Child protection in sites targeted by PSS facilitators who use many topics of PSS activities