Children with Disabilities and the Syrian Conflict
7 Impunity Watch Annual Review (2016-17).
43 Pages Posted: 2 Aug 2017 Last revised: 1 Feb 2018
Date Written: May 1, 2017
Since the conflict in Syria began, thousands of children, including children with disabilities, have been displaced, injured or killed. Children with disabilities are particularly vulnerable during wartime and as refugees. In times of armed conflicts, children with disabilities are often left on their own, unable to find shelter and food. If they are able to find shelter, they may still suffer, as parties to the conflict, ignoring rules of war, choose to launch their attacks on schools and hospitals. Children with disabilities who flee their homes, often with their families, may end up in refugee camps which expose them to danger and often life threatening conditions. This article explores the plight of children with disabilities who have remained in Syria during the conflict and who have fled their homeland, and are now living in refugee camps. It is impossible to estimate the number of children with disabilities affected by the Syrian conflict, but it should not be impossible for the international community to help them. This paper begins with a discussion of the background of the Syrian conflict and its effect on children, generally, and especially on children with disabilities. The second section of this article discusses the situation of children with disabilities in Syria, today, followed by the third section which discusses the current Syrian legal system, and its failure to adequately protect the rights of people with disabilities, generally, and children with disabilities, in particular. The fourth section of the article presents an overview of international legal protections for children with disabilities during armed conflicts. The final two sections of the article discuss lessons learned from past conflicts that have addressed the needs of children survivors of armed conflicts and what actions must be taken now to protect the rights and lives of Syrian children with disabilities.
Keywords: Refugees, Syrian, International Law, Disability, Children
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