In a new report based on research with over 400 children and adults living through the conflict in seven governorates of Syria, Save the Children has analysed the terrible psychological toll on children of six years of war – including from the consistent use of explosive weapons in populated areas.
In “Invisible Wounds,” released in March, bombing and shelling was recorded as the number one cause of psychological stress amongst children.
The report details how the prolonged exposure of children to this kind of violence, as well as uncertainty and stress has left many in a state of “toxic stress.”
This is having both immediate impacts and could have long term implications for children’s lives.
Save the Children calls for urgent action to spare Syria’s children from the worst impacts of the war and prevent a generation being lost to mental and physical ill health. Among other recommendations, the report calls for parties not to use explosive weapons with wide area effects in populated areas as an urgent step towards this goal.
In April, INEW member Action on Armed Violence (AOAV) released a report on the links between the use of explosive weapons in conflict and the movement of refugees into Europe.
85% of the sample of refugees interviewed by AOAV in the UK, Germany and Greece reported witnessing the use of explosive weapons, with 69% reporting direct impacts on their families as a result. 44% of the sample had had their homes destroyed by the use of explosive weapons.
The report also looks at what protection and support is offered in Europe to those fleeing the use of explosive weapons in particular. AOAV notes that the link between the use of explosive weapons and displacement is not addressed in refugee or asylum law.
Invisible wounds: The impact of six years of war on the mental health of Syria’s children (March 2017)
The refugee explosion: How Europe treats refugees fleeing explosive violence (April 2017)