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A Syrian Refugee Asks, "Are My Friends Still Alive?"
Muzoon Almellehan was only 14 when the Syrian civil war forced her family to leave their home in Daraa in the middle of the night and cross the border into Jordan. Now 19, Muzoon is an education activist who travels the world in her role as UNICEF's youngest ever Goodwill Ambassador. But she has never stopped worrying about the friends she left behind in Syria. "I'm wondering, where are my friends now?" she says. "Are they safe? Are they still alive?"
Seven years of extreme and indiscriminate violence have torn the country to pieces, forcing 5.5 million children and their families from their homes — some multiple times. Syria has become the world's largest producer of both internally displaced people and refugees.
Conflict is now the leading cause of death among adolescents in Syria. Some 3.3 million children inside Syria are exposed to explosive hazards including landmines, unexploded ordinance and improvised explosive devices. In the first two months of 2018 alone, 1,000 children were reportedly killed or injured in the intensifying violence. The Syrian government's siege of rebel-held eastern Ghouta outside the capital of Damascus has left an estimated 400,000 people trapped and vulnerable. The situation is dire.
"I hope everyone will be hopeful for Syria," says Muzoon. "Syria needs you. It needs your support. Don't give up on Syria."
Top photo: Children watch as a joint UNICEF, United Nations and Syrian Arab Red Crescent convoy of 46 trucks transporting food aid arrive in Douma, Eastern Ghouta on March 5, 2018. © UNICEF/UN0162760/Khabieh