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UNICEF warns whole generations of Middle East children are at risk

The UN Children's Fund has warned that ever more children are at risk of becoming disenfranchised. The statements followed a new report on the the international community's failure to mitigate Syria's civil war.

About 14 million children across the Middle East are suffering from the escalating conflict sweeping Syria and much of Iraq, the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) said on Thursday.

Nearly three million children cannot go to school and entire generations are at risk: "For the youngest children, this crisis is all they have ever known. For adolescents entering their formative years, violence and suffering have not only scarred their past, they are shaping their futures," said UNICEF executive director Anthony Lake.

War in the region has left many children cut off from peace and access to basic necessities, medical care and educations, the agency warned. "With the conflict in Syria now entering its fifth year, the situation of more than 5.6 million children inside the country remains the most desperate," UNICEF said.

Lake warned that youths in both Syria and Iraq are at risk of being lost to a cycle of violence.

In Berlin, UNICEF Deutschland's CEO Christian Schneider said that around 14 million children in Syria and the region were suffering the effects of war. He said more humanitarian aid was needed, including investment in education and other help. He said the organization would need $9 million (8.5 million euros) for 2015 to help the children in need.

Failing Syria

The statements came hours after the publication of a report on Syria by 21 NGOs entitled 'Failing Syria', which accused the UN Security Council of failing to implement the resolutions it adopted to mitigate the conflict.

The report, which outlined the overall situation for Syrians on the ground, said the international community was indeed failing; nearly five million people inside Syria were living in areas which were difficult to access and thus had inadequate access to aid, and there was not nearly enough money to help those in need. The report also said that the aid community would need at least $8.4 billion to respond to the situation.

Neighboring countries overloaded

Almost 2 million Syrian children are living as refugees in Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan and other countries, according to UNICEF.

"This is in addition to the 3.6 million children from vulnerable communities hosting refugees, who themselves are suffering due to the strain on services like education and health," it said.

More than 210,000 people are estimated to have been killed in the Syrian conflict which started in 2011, over half of the population has reportedly been displaced.

sb/msh (dpa, AFP)

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