Syrian children continue to bear brunt of conflict

            By Meryem Goktas</p>  <p><br></p>  <p>ANKARA (AA) – As the conflict in Syria entered its ninth year on Friday, children inside the war-weary country continue to bear the brunt of the conflict.</p>  <p><br></p>  <p>Many young Syrian children have never known peace. Still living in refugee camps, they have been deprived of their futures and continue to face exceptionally harsh living conditions.</p>  <p><br></p>  <p>Anadolu Agency spoke with three children in the Babusselam refugee camp in Syria’s northern city of Azaz.</p>  <p><br></p>  <p>Set up by Turkey's Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH), the camp is currently home to some 15,000 refugees, including nearly 7,000 children.</p>  <p><br></p>  <p>Describing Syria as his “beloved homeland”, 13-year-old Abd al-Rahman said it was “very hard to survive in a refugee camp as a child”.</p>  <p><br></p>  <p>“My dream is to return to my home,” he said. “I want to leave these camps and I want the bombs to end.”</p>  <p><br></p>  <p>“I want to run freely on my own land,” he added. “I want to play in freedom again.” </p>  <p><br></p>  <p>Mohamed Ali, another 13-year-old camp resident, voiced a similar desire for freedom and peace.</p>  <p><br></p>  <p>“For me, Syria is everything,” he said. “It’s where I want to live in freedom.”</p>  <p><br></p>  <p>He went on to voice hope of eventually receiving an education so that he might help his fellow Syrians.</p>  <p><br></p>  <p>“When I grow up, I want to be a doctor,” he said. “I want to treat everyone who needs help -- no matter who they are or what they do.”</p>  <p><br></p>  <p>Khaled, another young camp resident, lamented the “very hard conditions” faced by him and his friends at the camp.</p>  <p><br></p>  <p>“It’s very cold here; there’s mud everywhere,” the 12-year-old said. “It’s not clean; we can’t play freely here.”</p>  <p><br></p>  <p>“We want to return to our homes,” he added.</p>  <p><br></p>  <p>Khaled said that, when he grows up, he wants “to help people affected by bombs”.</p>  <p><br></p>  <p>“I want to be a firefighter and save people,” he said.</p>  <p><br></p>  <p>According to the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), some 5.6 million children still need humanitarian assistance in Syria, while 2.6 million remain internally displaced.</p>  <p><br></p>  <p>What’s more, an estimated 20,000 Syrian children under five years old suffer from severe acute malnutrition, according to UNICEF. </p>  <p><br></p>  <p>In a recent statement, UNICEF described 2018 as the “deadliest year for children in Syria” -- an indication of the harrowing conditions still faced by children in the war-torn country.</p>  <p><br></p>  <p>Syria has been locked in a devastating conflict since early 2011, when the Assad regime cracked down on demonstrators with unexpected severity.</p>  <p><br></p>  <p>Since then, hundreds of thousands of people have been killed and more than 10 million displaced, according to UN figures.