SYRIAN REFUGEES: 1 million are children; 740K under age 11 - KMSP-TV

SYRIAN REFUGEES: 1 million are children; 740K under age 11

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The United Nations estimates more than 2 million people have been displaced by the conflict in Syria, and roughly half of all registered are children. Of those, about 740,000 are under the age of 11.

Local humanitarian groups are stepping in to do what they can to help, and FOX 9 News spoke with Daniel Wordsworth, president and CEO of the American Refugee Committee, to discuss the situation and what can be done to help those who have fled the civil war.

Q: If you could, paint a picture of what is happening to children in Syria.

A: It's really an unimaginable thing. You're talking about one million children that have actually crossed the border. There are still millions in Syria that are trapped by this violence and, frankly, terrified about what they're seeing around them.

Q: Some very emotional moments, as you can imagine, in the midst of all this. Some amazing video of a father who thought his son was presumed dead by the apparent gas attack, they are reunited -- and look at the tearful homecoming. Sadly, that's not the case for other kids who are separated from their families.


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A: It's amazingly moving, isn't it? As a father, it really is heartbreaking -- but yes, you are seeing kids crossing the borders without their parents, brothers and sisters looking after each other. Thankfully, there are scenes like that where parents are being reunited. I think this is the time when we have to step up and get over there and work with these children, work with these families and try to make sure they can get through this.

Q: This is always an awful byproduct of any war -- kids torn from their families. Why did it take two years for the UN and the world to really consider the children involved in this civil war?

A: I think what's happened is there's been this sort of cloud of political turmoil that's been there and such terrible violence that we're seeing. It's almost overshadowed the human story that lies underneath this. I think when we begin to grasp that there are 1 million kids that are caught up in this, I think it begins to put a face on it. I think we begin to see beyond the political issues and realize that this is fundamentally a human thing, and that's what has impact on us.

Q: Once the children escape Syria -- let's face it, their ordeals have to be far from over.

A: Far from over. You are moving either into large camps that are in the middle of the desert, maybe 120,000 people living there. So, where do you go to school? Where to do you go to the toilet? What clean water do you have? These are the kinds of things that the international community is really scrambling to build. Over three quarters of the refugees that have crossed over have actually been taken into the homes of the Jordanian community. They've been taking them in, providing hospitality, but it's getting to the point now where it's actually a breaking point and the Jordanian community just can't keep absorbing this. We have to step up.

Q: How can people here help?

A: Well I think one thing they can do first of all is begin to look beyond the political issue and realize there's a fundamental human thing going on here, and then I think they should be able to take some comfort that there are organizations -- like ARC -- that are there on the ground working with these families. The money that is contributed, the resources that go to help don't get swallowed up in governments and in all these struggles. They actually go directly to these families to make a difference. We would love to have people involved in what we're doing. Please, go to our website, and get involved.

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