Disabled children, Enabled futures

#ChildrenUnderAttack: Seven years of war in Syria

A boy playing the violin

A boy on a wheelchair in a camp

BEIRUT/AMMAN/DAMASCUS, 12 March 2018 – With no end in sight to the war in Syria, children with disabilities risk being excluded and forgotten.

The conflict in Syria continued unabated through 2017, killing the highest ever number of children – 50 per cent more than in 2016. In the first two months of 2018 alone, 1,000 children were reportedly killed or injured in intensifying violence. Conflict is now the leading cause of death among adolescents in the country.

A girl on a wheelchair in front of a destructed building

بيروت/ عمان/ دمشق، 12 آذار/مارس 2018 – يواجه الأطفال ذوي الإعاقات خطر الإقصاء والنسيان بغياب نهاية قريبة للحرب في سوريا

استمر النزاع في سوريا بلا هوادة خلال عام 2017  مما أسفر عن مقتل عدد من الأطفال هو الأعلى على الإطلاق – وبنسبة تزيد 50 في المئة عن عام 2016. فقط في الشهرين الأولين من عام 2018، تم الإبلاغ عن مقتل أو إصابة 1,000 طفل نتيجة العنف المكثّف. أصبح النزاع الآن هو أوّل سبب للوفاة بين اليافعين في البلاد

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Bassil, 17, was paralyzed due to the violence. He remembers going out for a stroll with two of his friends one morning in his neighbourhood in Homs, Syria, when a bomb hit them. The attack killed one of his friends and paralyzed Bassil’s legs. He left Syria and found refuge in Lebanon with his mother. Since the attack, Bassil’s life changed drastically. "I knew that nothing will ever be the same. I was no longer able to care for myself. I became restrained by everything around me!” "Before I came here, I had no interest in life. Everyone saw only my wheelchair and never me.” Bassil found solace in playing the violin. It became an extension of his body. Through weekly lessons and practice at the UNICEF-supported Al-Rahma centre in northern Lebanon, Bassil worked hard to turn his dream of becoming a musician into reality. "Whatever I was feeling, whether I was happy or sad, I was able to let the violin express these feelings for me. Today, when I play, I can make the violin laugh or cry for me.”
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Sami, 14, has two prosthetic legs and uses a wheelchair. Originally from Dera’a in southern Syria, he was forced to flee the war and has been living in the Za’tari Refugee Camp in Jordan for the past four years. Sami recalls playing in the snow with his cousins in hishometown when a bomb hit, killing his cousins and injuring him and his aunt. All he remembers is waking up in the hospital and wanting to walk. Except he couldn’t. He lost his two legs. "When I was younger, I didn’t like school, but in recent years I realized how important schools is – I really want to learn English.” Because of his injury, Sami was forced to leave school to get medical treatment in Jordan. He has undergone two surgeries. But his willpower can’t be defeated. "No one is stronger than me. I want to paint and go to parties.” Sami likes to draw comics
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Hanaa, 8, was paralyzed by an exploding bomb in Aleppo. She now uses a wheelchair. She remembers not wanting to leave her home for months after her injury. "I was scared and I couldn’t play with my sisters.” Then, volunteers from a UNICEF-supported child friendly space in Aleppo, brought her to the centre to play, sing, and draw. Hanaa had dropped out of school for a year but she returned to continue her education. She loves learning to read, write, and do maths. She also goes to physiotherapy three times a week and she is happy that she is getting better little by little. Hanaa has two wishes: "My dream is to become a physiotherapist to help children like me. And my big dream is for peace to return to my country.”
A kid without legs holding his helmet on a skate board
Ghanim Al Muftah
Ghanim was born with Caudal Regression Syndrome, a rare disorder which impairs the development of the lower spine. Ghanim and his family launched the Ghanim Almuftah Foundation for Peace and Prosperity, to encourage physically disabled people to integrate into mainstream society.

I have lived with a quarter of my body. My legs were amputated in my very early childhood. I have been through more than one operation. I focus on the many things that I already have and can use to be positive and reach my goals. I’m expressing my solidarity with the children of Syria impacted by war. I wish them a better future.

Ghanim Al Muftah, 16 from Qatar, a student, humanitarian and a children’s rights activist.