This year, the prayer of the Eid Al-Adha was performed in peace for the first time in 5 years. The 7-day long cease-fire declared on the eve of the feast was a cause for joy, albeit a temporary one, for Syria that has been drowning in blood for the last 5 years. Following the arrival of the Turkish army, the images capturing children’s joy of feast quickly reached the Turkish media. The feast had brought the children happiness even under the falling bombs and among the devastated houses.
Although, by means of cease-fire, further loss of lives was prevented and hopefully a secure zone was established at least for the duration of the feast, it certainly does not offer a permanent solution for Syria. Progresses that are more significant and a firmer stand is need for the bloodshed to cease in Syria. Because the loss of lives is not the sole problem of region. It is the struggle for the survival and annihilation of a nation.
Previously in these lines, we talked about the emergence of a lost generation in Syria, and addressed the challenges and difficulties the refugee children that were forced to leave their country face. There is no doubt that the state of the children who remained in Syria is far graver. According to the UNICEF report, 3.7 million Syrian children were born since the beginning of the civil war 5 years ago. When proportioned to the total population, as of now, one out of every three children are the children of war. This number also includes 151.000 children who were born refugees. UNICEF Regional Director Peter Salama summarizes the current situation in the region as follows: “In Syria, violence has become commonplace, reaching homes, schools, hospitals, clinics, parks, playgrounds and places of worship.
Nearly 7 million children live in poverty, making their childhood one of loss and deprivation.”
According to the analyzes of Salama, during the period of war, the majority of the children in Syria actively participated in the war waged by the adults. They dropped out of schools. Many among them were forced to work at a small age. The average age of the children that were handed a weapon and forced to fight was between 15 and 17. However, since 2014, the children of younger ages, even the ones who are 7 years old- have been seen to be forced into war. The first objects a 7 year old, school-age child becomes acquainted with being weapons, and them having to face with the horrible side of murders at such an early age is quite meaningful in seeing the extent of the catastrophe in Syria.
And the state of the Syrian children who were forced into migration is not so different from before. The global migration statistics have revealed that 50 million children lost their homes and 17 million children were forced into migration worldwide. According to this statistics, one out of every two refugees is a child. And the country harboring the highest number of child refugees is Turkey.
And lastly, the news that, according to the data of the German Department of Homeland Security, of the children who seek asylum in Germany, 8991 of them are missing caused a worldwide dismay. This number bears a striking testimony to the fact that the refugee problem, which had extended to Europe, has reached a more tragic scale than expected. And where and in what conditions these children, currently live, what manner of lives they lead, and whether they suffer abuse or not, remain a mystery.
A child is a sinless, innocent and pure being, unfamiliar with the grim side of life. Within their innocent worlds, they are not capable of grasping the cruelty and wickedness of some people. The childhood experiences are always remembered as a pleasant tale; innocuous and completely pure. And in that untainted world, villains and the concept of evil never exist.
However, in a period when they think of life as a game, the children of war were faced with the death of their parents and siblings, and the devastation of their homes through bombs; forced to take up arms and fight; and leaving their countries behind, they were dragged into dark, unfamiliar environments. They deserve a very bright future; a future that can compensate for all these experiences they go through.
Undoubtedly, the cease-fire in Syria will not put an end to all these. Just when people have tasted the serene atmosphere of peace, with the expiry of the cease-fire, they will once more return to the horrible aspect of war. The short-term tranquility that was achieved in the feast will once again leave its place to bombs. Although short-term cease-fires bring ease in terms of matters such as humanitarian aids, they are certainly not what Syria really needs.
What Syria really needs is to be able to return to the long-forgotten environment of love and unity. Many might consider an atmosphere where love and togetherness reign supreme a far cry for Syria. However, the future is not bleak for either the people or the children of Syria. The plans of those who oppress, instigate war and deem the environment of war suitable for the Middle East will not continue forever. The Divine Justice will be served and what is righteous will prevail over the superstitious. This environment of trial is created so that we can see the terrifying extent oppression can reach. It should not be forgotten that God is indeed the Protector of the aggrieved.
We hope that the weapons that quieted down during Eid will never be fired again. We hope that this atmosphere of peace will be permanent, and the children who are worthy of everything beautiful will achieve the peace they deserve. We hope that the world of Islam will celebrate many feasts, away from wars and in unity. May the feast of the entire world of Islam be blessed.
Adnan Oktar's piece in Arab News: