Today I want to take a moment to recognize the 1.1 million Syrian refugee children scattered in camps around the Middle East. The Syrian war has been devastating for children, both physically and psychologically.
I would like to take a moment to share the story of one of those million refugee children with you. Moussa is 15 years old and currently lives in a refugee camp in Jordan. This is what he told Save the Children:
“I was captured by the police and put in prison for 22 days. I was tortured and I saw children dying. I’ve got scars on my feet, chest and back. There were hundreds of us in prison – I was in a big cell with the other children. The youngest ones were nine or ten, they had been captured. I was beaten up every day, and they used electricity too.
In prison, when someone died, they kept hitting the body. There were dead bodies in my cell too – they’d been there for a long time and they stank. They were decomposing – there were maggots. Eventually, they threw me out. They carried me out on a blanket. I couldn’t move.
A passerby stopped and looked at my Id. He took me to my village, where my family found me and took me to hospital. I still have back pains.
I came here with my twin brother. He’s now in hospital being cared for by our older brother. He got second-degree burns after our house was attacked. There were tanks and shelling. One of my brothers was killed – shot in the head. At that time, I was in prison. That was five months ago. They ransacked houses and shops, killed small children. They even targeted schools, hospitals and mosques.
I’ve lost my father, but my mother is here in Jordan. She ran away from the camp because she had health issues. She has heart problems and the dust in the camp was making it difficult for her to breathe. I wish I could see her. I haven’t spoken to her for 20 days.
I want people to know what’s happening in Syria.
I have one friend in the camp. I come to the child-friendly spaces every now and then, but I don’t play. I used to be more sociable, but now I’m not doing anything at all. I’m depressed. I don’t want to socialise. I don’t feel secure in my sleep.”
No words can adequately describe how devastating it is to hear about a child subjected to torture. I shudder imagine the effects of the physical and psychological trauma that Moussa has endured.
We must all ask ourselves, how will we heal those wounds?
If the world is to make any resolutions for 2014 it should be to end the conflict in Syria and give adequate aid to the Syrian refugees. Each of us must make a commitment to work to return the innocence to Syrian children. We must do this for the sake of an entire generation of Syrian children who will carry the scars of this war for the rest of their lives.