A million children orphaned by the Syrian war

UN warns against dangers facing these children, including lack of education, trafficking and being indoctrinated by armed groups.

As many as a million children have been orphaned by the war in Syria which is in its sixth year.

The UN has warned against the dangers facing children without parents such as lack of education, trafficking and being indoctrinated by armed groups.

Many children are living in orphanages being run by local charities both inside Syria and abroad.

“I was five years old when Shabiha attacked and rounded everyone up,” said Mariam al Shalan, an orphan from Homs.

“Then they opened fire and killed everyone. My mother came in fornt of us and took the bullets.

“My mother asked me for water. When I came back, she was dead. Me and my brother spent two days under the blood and the bodies.”

In a centre for orphans in the opposition-controlled city of Idlib, almost every child that has been affected by the war suffers from trauma and psychological stress.


However, care givers have limited financial support. In addition to salaries, they need help including repair work for the buildings as winter approaches.

Al Jazeera spoke to some of the children who have lost one or both their parents.

The childrens’ accounts reveal how the ongoing war and the rising casualties it is bringing is creating challenges for their well-being inside Syria and in countries where they are living as refugees.

Oday Fayad – Aleppo 

“We were sitting in our home and the jet targeted us and my father died in that attack. When we moved to the al Fardos neighbourhood, another strike targeted us and killed my little sister. We then moved to the al Zibdia neighbourhood and a bunker buster rocket targeted the basement we were in and we lost our mother. We didn’t bury her, we left the body under the rubble and came to this centre.

I’m here with my brothers and my elder sister whose husband also died with my mother.”

Lana Fayad

“In an air strike, my father died. Later, more jets came and in that attack, my mother, my sister and the husband of another sister were killed. We left our building and the green buses that evacuated residents brought us here.”

Mariam al Shalan – Homs 

“I came to this centre from Idlib four years ago. We used to live in the city centre. I was five years old when the Shabiha attacked our place. They took us away. Later, they shot at us killing adults and children. We spent two days in the middle of bodies and blood. My father was shot in the head. My mother tried saving us but she was shot as well. 

“I went to check my brothers and sisters and see if they were still alive but they were losing blood and then they died. Only nine children survived.”