The Effects of War on Children and Their Displacement


Before I begin, I’d like to take a moment to recognize the countless lives which have been lost due to terror. Please keep in mind that although I have listed many statistics and numbers here, these victims are not numbers. They are sons, daughters, mothers and fathers. Please do not let the vast numbers take away from the significance of each individual life.

From Manchester to Baghdad to Kabul to London, in the past few weeks the world has witnessed too many terror attacks. In the attacks listed alone (not including the countless others which have not reached mainstream media) over 200 individuals were killed1,2,3,4.

Terror attacks can harm children directly or indirectly. Of course, we are well aware that among the causalities of any terror attack it is not unusual for at least a few to be children. This was especially demonstrated in the Manchester attack on May 22, 2017, where 9 out of the 22 victims were under the age of 192. In countries where civil war or terrorism is highly prevalent, it is quite common for residential areas to be targeted resulting in even greater numbers of children being among the causalities. On April 15, 2017, busses evacuating civilians from terrorist besieged regions of Syria were targeted by a terrorist organization, killing at least 126 people, 80 of which were children5.

Being the direct victim of an attack is not the only way children may be affected by terrorism. In 2012, after 10 years of war in Iraq, there were over 800,000 orphaned children6. Since then, with the rise of ISIS there have been 1.4 million internally displaced children7 and many more orphans. It is now estimated there are over 1 million orphans in Iraq8. War has claimed the lives of countless fathers and mothers leaving behind children without the support system they need.

Unfortunately, in countries still consumed by war the support for these orphans can be severely lacking. Many children are cared for by extended family, but there is a portion which do not have any extended family to care for them. It then becomes the responsibility of the government or NGOs to support these children. However, again in war torn countries the government is usually not in the best state and not capable of sufficiently supporting these children. There are many children who still have one living parent, but it is quite common that the parent which passed was the breadwinner, leaving the family in a very poor situation. In many countries, the majority of the victims of terror are men, leading to countless widows and orphans living in poverty.

It is undeniable that the financial challenges which fall upon orphans or displaced children are great. But, we cannot forget the emotional and psychological trauma which also comes with terror. These children have lost everything that mattered to them, their family, their homes and more. No words can explain the pain and suffering these young humans have gone through. I could talk on end about this topic and still not do justice to their pain. For this reason, I chose to stop here and leave you with the following quote from a journalist who had visited an orphanage in Baghdad, Iraq:

“The infant room in the orphanage was lined with pink and blue cribs, 3 deep, 5 across. At first glance, it looked like an ordinary daycare, children wrapped in blankets, one thumb in their mouths, the other holding a stuffed animal.

There is nothing ordinary, however, about this place. There is only one adult for all of the babies in those cribs. The infants are eerily silent, just as the toddlers are in the room next door, sitting in neat rows only ever seen in the illustrations of a Madeline storybook. Their eyes are full of longing, though otherwise empty. These infants are the survivors.”

Lia Taylor Shwartz, The Huffington Post


I was personally in contact with The Zahra Trust on ground team in Syria during the week of the bus attack I mentioned. To hear their recount of the story visit: