Syria (MNN) — The humanitarian group "Save the Children" says the most vulnerable population in Syria's civil war is the children.
They revealed a report yesterday at the start of the U.N. General Assembly. The findings indicated that children in Syria are subjected to "appalling" torture, imprisonment, and abduction, and suggested these atrocities should be better documented in order to pursue justice.
For example, Save the Children cited numerous cases of abuse against children during the 18-month conflict. The protest was sparked by unrest over the arrest and torture of children in the town of Deraa. It quickly spiraled out of control.
According to activists, the death toll rose to 30,000 since the anti-government protests began in March 2011. Another report indicated the death toll is around 20,000, but either way, the fighting is traumatizing a whole generation…resulting in the charity's call for an increased ground presence by the United Nations.
SAT-7 Programming Manager George Makeen says, "Those refugees were suffering so much in countries like Syria, Jordan, and Lebanon; some flocked to Egypt. We're not able to assist the kids and provide them with safe schools or homes or things like this."
SAT-7 KIDS, one of the SAT-7 broadcast channels, is the first and only Arabic Christian channel exclusively for children, making the Gospel of Christ meaningful to a generation that needs to feel God's love — especially as they mature and take their place in a society where the future is so uncertain. Makeen notes, "We can see who pays the price: the most weak and the most fragile part of the cycle are the kids."
Ongoing attacks have forced over a quarter million Syrians to seek safety in neighboring countries. The UN estimates more than 1.2 million internally displaced people, and 2.5 million in need of humanitarian assistance.
The UN envoy for Children and Armed Conflict asked the government to call on the Syrian military to evacuate schools as a top priority. She indicated rebel groups have also committed humanitarian violations. Makeen explains, "Now we hear about kids who were involved and being used to force the families to be on one side or another."
It's heartbreaking news. And Makeen says this is why their programming is so important. One of the SAT-7 KIDS producers, Rita El-Mounayer, recently told a listening audience that she understood where they were coming from in uncertain times. "She used to say: ‘I can feel with you because I've grown up in a country that has a civil war. I know what it means to sit in a shelter, or even a home–not to know from where the hit will come, or from where danger will come.' So we feel with these kids." It reassures the young viewers, and they can more readily hear a message coming from someone who's been in their shoes.
The staff creates original dramas, talk shows, and provides educational material, cartoons, music programs, and other programming that captures the attention of young viewers and helps them grow up knowing more about God's love for them and His plan for their lives. More importantly, says Makeen, their programming provides a safe place and a refuge for the children. "We make sure that our programs don't have anything that can be disturbing to kids . And we make sure that we present them with programs that [are appropriate] in such difficult times."
Pray that the Lord's protection would surround children in Syria, and that SAT-7 KIDS will be an encouragement and solace for those who watch.
And there's more. SAT-7 partners with a production company in Damascus. The Damascus group recently sent a program to air that covered a church prayer meeting.
Makeen says the footage was wrenching. Syrian believers were praying for Syria, but the people were talking about those who had already been killed in the violence, acknowledging they could be next. It gave their prayer a kind of confident desperation. Makeen explains, "These people are talking about death as fact, as if they know this is coming toward them. I pray that in these times of fear and disappointment, people will be wise and strong enough to make the right decisions."
Pray for wisdom and for the peace of Christ. The horizon is not yet clear. In many countries that experienced an "Arab Spring," the regime was replaced by a government with deadly purpose. Christians have rarely seen a freer outcome in those circumstances.
Makeen agrees. "America and the West are too much taken to the support of the protestors, but maybe they don't recognize that among them, there are the most dangerous fundamentalists who are really scary. You don't want them to come into position in Syria, (because) this would be really bad."
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