The first time I visited Save the Children’s Syria refugee response in Lebanon the world had no idea how much worse the situation would get. At the time there were barely 100,000 Syrian refugees in Lebanon, and now, just 18 months later, there are 1 million. Nearly three years of fighting has claimed the lives of over eleven thousand children and made refugees out of two and a half million of its people. The impact on Syria’s health system has been devastating and as a result children are dying from the lack of basic medical care.
In Africa, two out of every five children are stunted. This means that they have been so deprived of the right kinds of food that their physical and mental growth is permanently damaged. At current rates, around one million more children will become stunted every single year over the next decade. That’s millions of children condemned to being less than their potential: physically, emotionally and intellectually.
Sitting in Charles de Gaulle airport waiting for my connection after a hectic couple of days in Abuja. I went at short notice invited by the African Union to be part of the Finance Ministers' meeting on industrialisation with a special session on malnutrition.
I'm descending mount Lebanon in thick fog returning to Beirut after a day visiting programmes in the Bekaa valley. Sonia our country director is dealing with messages about a sniper attack on the main road north, while Ahmad our media officer is checking out the photos he took today and telling me about the huge number of trips he co-ordinates. I'm reflecting on the stories I've heard today from the people who have left everything behind in Syria.
I remember the day Typhoon Haiyan struck, the rolling news, the first aerial pictures of the devastation it had left in its wake, the complete and utter chaos. It was a worrying sight for Save the Children’s team that was already on the ground, prepped to deliver humanitarian aid in the immediate aftermath.
Save the Children International is a company limited by guarantee, registered in England and Wales with company number 3732267 and a charity registered in England and Wales with charity number 1076822. Its registered office is St Vincent House, 30 Orange Street, London, WC2H 7HH