ICRC poll of young Syrians shows half lost a relative or friend in conflict

Red Cross research provides ‘sombre snapshot of a generation’ who continue to suffer effects of war

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Nearly half of young Syrians said a close relative or friend had been killed in the civil war in the country, research from the International Committee of the Red Cross shows.

One in six said a parent was killed or seriously injured during the 10-year conflict, while 12 per cent of young Syrians had been injured and 62 per cent had been displaced from their homes, according to a survey of 1,400 Syrians aged 18 to 25 living in Germany, Lebanon and Syria.

It said 77 per cent struggled to find or afford food and basic necessities, a proportion that increased to 85 per cent among those in Syria. Nearly half had lost their income.

"This has been a decade of savage loss for all Syrians. For young people in particular, the past 10 years have been marked by loss of loved ones, loss of opportunities and loss of control over their future," said Robert Mardini, director general of the ICRC.

“The survey is a sombre snapshot of a generation who lost their adolescence and young adulthood to the conflict."

The ICRC said more than 50 per cent of Syria’s population was under 25.

More than half of the young Syrians polled said they suffered from sleep disorders in the past 12 months, nearly three quarters suffered with anxiety, more than half struggled with depression and more than two thirds felt distressed.

The survey showed that about half felt lonely and about two thirds experienced frustration.

"These young people are now facing their second decade of this agonising crisis,” said Fabrizio Carboni, ICRC regional director for the Near and Middle East.

“What is so poignant about their situation is that, having lost much of their childhood and teenage years to the violence, this generation will likely shoulder much of the responsibility and work of reconstruction.

“Their children's lives will be marked by this conflict, too."

Looking ahead, young Syrians said they most wanted employment and economic opportunities, with education, psychological support and health care also key priorities.