©UNICEF/ Syria 2017/ Al- Issa
Goran Tomasevic / Reuters
I was in Grade 8 when I was forced to leave school, after fighting started in my village in eastern rural Aleppo.
I myself was displaced from Ar-Raqqa six months ago, but nothing I have witnessed since compares to the misery I have seen on children's faces in the past weeks in the camp.
Renewed fighting in the southern Syrian governorate of Dar'a forced children and their families out of their homes and into the wilderness. After six years of war in Syria, it has become commonplace for families living through cycles of intense violence and relative calm to seek shelter in agricultural fields until it is safe to return home.
The shelter in Aleppo seems plucked out of a fairy tale. Mohammad and his siblings stepped through the welcoming green door and walked into a safe place for the first time in months. They were surrounded by a tiny garden filled with Jasmine flowers and olive trees and a big house filled with children laughing and playing.
The differences are stark.
After six years of violence, Syrian children need us to believe in them more than ever. We must to ensure that an entire generation of children with dreams for the future doesn't get lost in the rubble. I have been allowed to grow up in peace into a future that allows me to work for my dreams. Syrian children deserve the same.
UNICEF Syrian Arab Republic
For children living in one of the deadliest places on earth, this lack of safe water is a continuous threat to their survival. Alongside 100,000 children living in east Aleppo, nine-year-old Judy has been robbed of her childhood. Instead of going to school or playing with friends, her life is full of constant stress.
BORIS ROESSLER via Getty Images
Almost all of the children who study at this school have fled violence in northern rural Hama over a year ago, and sought refuge in caves and tents that are spread along this rural area. Last year, some of the children living in rural Idleb had an opportunity to catch up on the education they have missed.
Brett Tarver/World Vision
Today, the world remembers a child who never had the chance to seize life at all. His name was Alan Kurdi. You'll recall him as the little Syrian boy who, was found dead on a beach in Turkey the morning of September 2, 2015. He had stepped into a crowded inflatable boat with his family the night before, in a desperate attempt to each Europe in safety. Alan's death rocked people everywhere -- from families in their homes to leaders in the halls of power. When children like Alan reached out for help, we didn't reach back.
World Vision video
This week marks five years since the start of the Syrian conflict. The war has inflicted a devastating toll on millions of desperate Syrian families, resulting in a humanitarian crisis that has rippled throughout the region. More than 4.3 million Syrian refugees are now trying to piece their lives back together in neighbouring countries. That's where the No Lost Generation project comes in. It's a global initiative, supported by donor countries and non-governmental organizations, to help save the future of displaced Syrian children. The goal is to provide safe education and psycho-social support which includes protecting children from exploitation, abuse and violence.
This week, World Vision released a video showing what it might be like to have your classroom torn apart by war. In about two minutes, Life As a Classroom shows the destruction of once-friendly schoolroom over Syria's five-year conflict. As the video opens we see the teacher energetically teaching from the front. The walls are covered with colourful posters and a map of the world. All is peaceful. All is as it should be. Suddenly we hear the chanting of political protests in the street outside. Teacher and students move to the windows to look out. That's when things begin to change.
Here, in this unassuming spot, World Vision would use toys, drawings and games to brighten the lives of refugee children fleeing across Europe to find safety in new homelands. This was the first day of operations for a new child-friendly space in Adaševci.
Up to two million Syrian refugees are children. Here are the portraits one photographer took in Jordan.
ARMEND NIMANI via Getty Images
In Fahad Tabuck's face, I see a combination of exhaustion, frustration and despair that seems permanently etched into his expression. The 38-year old Syrian refugee looks at least a decade older, having spent the past two years fleeing from his home in Syria with his wife and five children.
- via Getty Images
I am unwilling to shake off the horror of seeing Alan Kurdi lying face down on the beach. If it were just one child, just one death, the story would still be heartbreaking. But the outraged conversations across Canada have quickly expanded to include Canada's wider response to this terrible conflict.
UNICEF, Save the Children and World Vision are urging the global community to commit US$1 billion to provide the education, protection, and support Syrian children need to fulfill their potential, and to develop the skills their societies need to create a more sustainable future. This investment could well save a generation.
Earlier this week, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden decried the use of chemical weapons on "defenceless men, women and children" in Syria. As someone who works for an international aid and development agency looking out for children, something is deadly certain to me: Those children have been defenceless ever since the war in Syria began.
Muna recalls the day that changed her life forever. "There was a sound like a plane, and then the house shook," she says. Realizing that her Syrian village was under rocket attack, Muna rushed her five children into the stairwell to get them down from the roof where they'd been.