Child born every hour in Syrian refugee camps

21,000 since conflict started, reports UNICEF

24 December, 14:37

    (by Elisa Pinna). (ANSAmed) - ROME, DECEMBER 24 - Every hour a child is born in a refugee camp housing Syrians that have fled their war-torn country. Some 21,000 babies have been born to mothers seeking refugee in bordering countries - most of whom in Lebanon, where living conditions are too expensive for them and the risk of coming down with pneumonia or polio are extremely high.

    The figures released by UNICEF on Tuesday are accompanied by a 'red alert': if the international community and host countries do not do more to help and protect the infants and children of the Syrian civil war, a 'catastrophe' will ensue. Unlike those of Turkey, Jordan, and Iraq, the Lebanese government does not provide any camps for the ceaseless flow into its territory of Syrian refugees, who have led to a 25% rise in the population of Lebanon. Thus, about 835,000 refugees now live in makeshift tents on the edge of cities and villages. With snow falling for weeks and temperatures dropping below zero every night, UNICEF has seen an increase in cases of pneumonia and respiratory infection among the youngest, weakest refugees. The UN agency for childhood also noted that around 500,000 children - out of a million minors among the refugee population - are at risk of getting polio, since they were unable to get vaccinated due to the fighting in their country.

    Most of the children born in the informal tent settlements do not even have birth certificates, rendering them vulnerable to abuse - from human trafficking to organ trafficking and forced child marriage. Only 23% of the 781 infants born in Lebanon to Syrian mothers in October have been registered, reports UNICEF.

    However, the situation is not much better in the other neighbouring countries, either. Moreover, many of the young Syrians have lost one or more of their parents. In late September the UN High Commissioner for Refugees registered 2,440 children in Lebanon and 1,320 in Jordan. ''Some of them can't even speak after the horrors they've seen,'' said UNHCR spokesperson Roberta Russo. (ANSAmed).

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