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Syria's Children Suffer, and the World Just Shrugs

Author: Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, Senior Fellow for Women and Foreign Policy
January 1, 2014
cnn.com

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The world has devoted a great deal of diplomatic energy to securing Syria's chemical weapons. It has yet to do the same for securing Syria's children.

Their future is as important for international security and stability, even if the consequences of inaction will take far longer to be seen and felt.

The war in Syria between the government of Bashar al-Assad and forces opposed to him has ground on for more than two years and claims new victims each day. More than 100,000 have been killed. Starvation has become a gruesome reality, with a religious leader now saying it is OK to eat cats and dogs given the lack of much of anything else.

Polio, likely brought by foreign fighters, has resurfaced to claim tiny victims younger than 2. In the past two weeks, barrel bombs -- drums filled with shrapnel and explosives -- are reported to have killed more than 500 people in the city of Aleppo.

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based group with links to Syrian opposition, children accounted for more than 150 of the dead.

Refugees fleeing the conflict, most to Syria's overwhelmed neighbors Jordan and Lebanon, top a whopping 2 million. Some U.N. officials expect that number to climb as high as 4 million in 2014. More than 1.1 million of these refugees are younger than 18. Indeed, Syria's youngest citizens are paying dearly for a war they did not create, one that is laying waste to their present and their future.

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