World Vision International
Press Release • Thursday, March 14th 2019

Syrian children fear return to war-torn homeland

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War is the biggest fear for most children, global survey reveals

  • Global survey examines fears and dreams of Syrian children, and their peers around the world
  • Children, regardless of geography or circumstance, are increasingly worried about war and climate change
  • International aid agency World Vision says refugee children and their families must be protected from forced returns.


Eight years after the war began in Syria (March 15), young refugees are still living in fear of violence. That’s despite many of them now having lived in host countries for much, if not all of their lives.

Aid agency World Vision surveyed Syrian children in Jordan and Lebanon about their fears and dreams. Almost 60 per cent expressed fears for their personal safety, or worry about losing a family member. The numbers are almost identical to a similar survey in 2017.

“These children are haunted by their experiences in Syria. Those born outside their ancestral homeland, are growing up hearing stories of war and destruction,” says World Vision’s Global Humanitarian Director, Justin Byworth. “It’s for this reason, most told us they’re reluctant to return home any time soon.”

“I am scared to go back to Syria, because… what if a bomb fell on us? What if my younger siblings, went somewhere to play… and a bomb hits? God forbid.” - Habiba,10

While the Syrian children spoken to are now living in host countries perceived to be safe, often they have few rights, lack access to social infrastructure and face increased vulnerability to violence in the form of early marriage and/or child labour.

World Vision also surveyed children living in Europe and Asia Pacific. It found that regardless of geography or circumstance, there were more similarities than differences. However, for Syrian children, their fears were much more imminent.

“My biggest dream is to learn and study to become a doctor - to treat and cure people. But because of the war that started in Syria, I couldn’t achieve that dream. Now that I am in Jordan, I still want to pursue my dream of studying, but I was forced to go out to work to support my family. I couldn’t continue studying.” - Sara, 15

“What we’ve noted is a move away from what most would categorise as typical childhood fears. Globally, children told us they were worried about war and personal safety (30%) and climate change (4%).”

Children’s dreams were overwhelmingly similar, with many speaking of future professions (37%), finding love and happiness (16%) and ending conflict and climate change (14%).


Read the full report here:


Notes on the survey:

  • The 2019 version includes fresh data from refugee host countries, and now sees the inclusion of Spain, Austria, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and Japan


Notes on World Vision:

World Vision has worked with Syrian children since the war began. In 2018, the charity reached over 1.2 million people in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey. An estimated 700,000 were children.

Calls to Government:

  • Protect children from grave violations and other forms of violence
  • Protect refugee children and their families from forced returns
  • Meet children’s basic needs, especially educational and psychological needs
  • Support principled humanitarian action inside Syria