UNICEF fears a ‘lost generation’ of Syrian children

BEIRUT — The escalating Syrian conflict risks creating a “lost generation” of millions of children suffering physical and psychological consequences of the war, UNICEF warned in a report released Tuesday.

Children may be the major victims of the almost two-year conflict, says the United Nations’ Children’s Fund, which provides aid to Syrians both inside and outside the country. Children represent about half of the more than 1 million refugees who have fled Syria. Inside the country, the young have been killed, injured, left orphaned and traumatized.

“In Syria, children have been exposed to grave human rights violations, including killing and maiming, sexual violence, torture, arbitrary detention, recruitment and use by armed forces and groups, and exposure to explosive remnants of war,” the report states. “Basic infrastructure and public services are being systematically destroyed. Families are struggling to survive in increasingly desperate conditions.”

One in five schools has been destroyed, damaged or converted into a shelter, disrupting education for hundreds of thousands, the report says. Water availability is down to a third of what it was before the crisis, and health officials have warned of an alarming increase of unsafe drinking water.

UNICEF, like other aid groups, says the demands from the crisis have far outpaced available resources. The group says it has appealed for $195 million to help meet the needs of Syrian children and women until the end of June but has only received about 20 percent of the needed funding.