Mercy Corps: Engaging Syrian Youth Is Crucial To Stability Of Region

Global Organization Launches New Initiative To Reach Vulnerable Youth Trapped In Years-Long War

Aug 10, 2015, 09:00 ET from Mercy Corps

PORTLAND, Ore., Aug. 10, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Syrian teenagers are depressed, hopeless and vulnerable to dangerous influences, according to a new report by the global organization Mercy Corps evaluating the ramifications of Syria's ongoing civil war on the country's adolescent population. Findings show that teens are deeply affected by the lack of safety, disruption to education and economic instability. Extreme isolation and lack of support by parents compound the issues.

"Syrian adolescents express extreme hopelessness and a fear that they have no future," says Jane Macphail, Mercy Corps' Youth Director who oversaw the pioneering research. "They are very aware of the fact that they've lost their childhoods and have been forced to be adults too early in life."

In addition to the grim realities of living in a war-torn region, Syrian adolescents are severely limited in their activities by parental restrictions and security concerns, which fosters feelings of isolation and uselessness. "Resorting to illegal action such as theft and smuggling is a coping measure that adolescents, especially males, quickly turn to in order to meet their basic needs," says Macphail. "Male adolescents are also more at risk of being recruited by armed groups." At the same time, adolescents often don't feel understood by parents—who are themselves struggling to protect their families—leaving adolescents without any support system.

Despite their dire circumstances, the adolescents interviewed showed extraordinary resilience and suggested many strategies that would help them cope with the difficult situations presented in their daily lives. "Access to education remains on the top of their list as an antidote to misery," says Macphail. So far Mercy Corps has reached more than 500 youth in Syria with activities including foreign language and science classes, in addition to organizing activities that give adolescents more opportunities to connect with and contribute to their community. 

The Mercy Corps report, No One Hears Us, is based on focus-group discussions and interviews with more than 450 individuals and community-based organizations conducted in mid-2014. Respondents included Syrian adolescents, parents, community leaders and community-based organizations in eight communities across Syria. Read or download the full report here.

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SOURCE Mercy Corps



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