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Project case: Syrian children under fire

Conflict and consequences

A fierce civil war ravages the country of Syria. Children are literally under fire. Tens of thousands of families have fled across the border to Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon. Syria is now witnessing the most ferocious conflict seen since the beginning of the Arab Spring. Peaceful demonstrations against the regime were violently beaten down, to which the opposition responded with coordinated counterattacks. Government troops and rebel groups now fight in an escalating civil war. Atrocities and intimidation against the civilian population are not unknown. Children are kidnapped, tortured and killed. Those fleeing the country drag the horrific things they have seen with them. To prevent permanent damage their invisible scars need rapid treatment.

Project targets

Children playing in a child friendly space in LebanonThe sudden influx of Syrian refugees in northern Lebanon demanded direct action from War Child’s team there. A specially developed rapid intervention programme facilitated help as quickly as possible. War Child has created seven safe places where children directly start processing their profound experiences in creative workshops. The programme in northern Lebanon focuses not only on Syrian children, their Lebanese peers can participate as well. This increases mutual understanding, and ultimately safety. Children who have fallen behind due to their displacement can receive catch-up education so they can quickly join in a regular school nearby.

Project design and activities

Psychosocial emergency response

In safe places children build on their resilience and strength. In life skills workshops they regain confidence in themselves and trust in others; they regain a sense of control over their own lives, and see that others are there to help them. Children learn to cooperate, to deal with their emotions, express their feelings, share their experiences, and cope with their experiences. Parents and caregivers are also involved enabling them to better to support their children.

Supplementary education

Education in Lebanon is often in French. To make sure Syrian children do not fall behind they get French lessons in order to enrol them as quickly as possible in regular education. It not only brings back normalcy and structure to their lives, it also promotes the integration of refugees into their host communities.


More than 1,500 Syrian and Lebanese children have benefited from the project, which provided a safe space for children, with water, hygiene and recreational facilities, where children can play, learn, have a sense of routine and structure, and receive psychosocial support. Interviews with staff in the field and Syrian parents highlighted more motivation to attend school amongst participating children and brought happiness to their homes. Social workers and psychologists also highlighted changes in children’s behaviour in comparison to the beginning of the project. Capacity building has been provided for relevant field staff on child protection, recreational activities and psychosocial support. Most importantly, the smooth integration of Lebanese and Syrian children has helped to build prospects for peaceful relations in the future between the two communities.

The main objective of the project was achieved given that 709 displaced Syrian children participated, slightly more than the targeted 700. The most important results were:

  • The establishment of safe spaces was achieved exceeding the goal of six functioning spaces by one, as there were seven functioning spaces in total;
  • Provision of psychosocial support through I DEAL was achieved and exceeded expectations given that 328 Syrian children participated (instead of 300 foreseen);
  • Supplementary education was achieved and exceeded its goal considering that 552 Lebanese and Syrian children were beneficiaries (initial target: 300);
  • Community outreach was achieved as awareness sessions on child protection were conducted in all the safe spaces, as well children with severe trauma or in need of additional support received referrals to appropriate services.

Achievements regarding project management:

  • Working with local actors in northern Lebanon (Akkar and Tripoli regions) has facilitated community access and the quality of the intervention.
  • Using schools as safe spaces ensured sustainability and has allowed us to directly link our programme to school enrolment.
  • Our DEALs methodology has been adapted to the context of the emergency in order to serve more children.

Lessons learned

This project was a rapid response to the Syrian Refugee crisis. Because War Child was aware of the problems faced by the refugee children and the need for an intervention, a proper needs assessment and training of staff on monitoring tools was not done extensively enough. Some of these tools and formats were developed during the project implementation. In the next phase we will ensure that a proper needs assessment and set of monitoring tools is in place before implementation.

In addition, in the first months of the project it was difficult to reach out-of-school children due to the geographical dispersion of the refugees. War Child has therefore employed social workers to identify those children. In the second phase we will include an Accelerated Learning Programme through cultural centres, social development centres, local NGOs and municipalities in order to enrol these children in formal education in the upcoming scholastic year.


Due to the dramatic increase in the number of Syrian refugees coming to Lebanon, War Child will continue and expand the project in 2013. Children who have moved to the southern and northern suburbs of Beirut and Palestinian Syrians who will go to Palestinian refugee camps will be provided with:

  1. Access to safe spaces
  2. Psychosocial support;
  3. Awareness on child protection;
  4. Quality supplementary education and improved access to school.

Project information
Name of the project: Strengthening protection, education and psychosocial support for displaced Syrian children in northern Lebanon
Duration: April - December 2012
Locations: northern Lebanon (Akkar and Tripoli areas)
Partner organisations:

  • Six public schools
  • Women League Association
  • UNICEF and War Child UK (donors)

Target groups:

  • Displaced Syrian children residing in Lebanon
  • Their caretakers and their host communities

Budget for 2012: € 201,999
Full Time Employees (equivalent):

    • Expat: 1
    • National staff: 49


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