In photos: Syria's children suffer amid war

01:27, Jan 14 2014
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Men help a wounded boy who survived what activists say was an airstrike by forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the Duma neighbourhood of Damascus January 7, 2014.
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A boy reacts inside his home that was damaged by what activists said was shelling from forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar Al-Assad in Qatana, Aleppo, December 1, 2013.
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A Syrian girl sits on bags of firewood in a makeshift camp for Syrian refugees only miles from the border with Syria in the Bekaa Valley on November 12, 2013 in Majdal Anjar, Lebanon. As the war in neighboring Syria drags on for a third year, Lebanon, a country of 4 million people, is now home to the largest number of Syrian refugees who have fled the conflict.
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A girl who was rescued from under a rubble, after what activists said was shelling by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, lies in a field hospital bed in Aleppo, December 28, 2013.
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Cedra, a Syrian boy from the city of Homs, begs in a wealthy district of Beirut on November 16, 2013 in Beirut, Lebanon. Nearly 2 million Syrians have fled their homes because of the war, about half of whom are children.
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A displaced Syrian child is viewed in a makeshift camp for Syrian refugees only miles from the border with Syria in the Bekaa Valley on November 12, 2013 in Majdal Anjar, Lebanon.
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A Jordanian soldier carries a Syrian refugee child as they walk with Syrian refugees, after the refugees had crossed the border from Syria into Jordan.
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A child holds his father's hand after hearing shelling by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Aleppo November 29, 2013.
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A Syrian man holds his child as he waits for medical supplies at a recently opened shelter in Vrazhdebna, Bulgaria, December 3, 2013. Around 10,000 Syrians have sough refuge in Bulgaria since the war began.
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Men help wounded children who survived what activists say was an airstrike by forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the Duma neighbourhood of Damascus January 7, 2014.
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A Syrian woman begs with her two children in a wealthy district of Beirut on November 16, 2013 in Beirut, Lebanon. While there is no official data on the number of children and adults working on the streets Lebanon, it is estimated that it could be anywhere from 50,000 to 70,000. In wealthy districts of Beirut children and adults are viewed on nearly every block begging, looking through trash or offering pedestrians a shoe shine.
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Ammar, a 15-year-old shoe shine boy who fled Daraa, Syria, waits for customers in a wealthy district of Beirut on November 16, 2013 in Beirut, Lebanon.
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Hasan, an 11 year-old fighter from the Free Syrian Army feeds a cat along a street in Aleppo's Karm al-Jabal district December 7, 2013. Molhem Barakat, the 18-year-old Reuters photographer who took this photo, was killed in December taking photographs of the fighting in Aleppo.
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Children warm themselves around a fire in eastern Ghouta near Damascus January 6, 2014. Food and fuel supplies have gone short in this part of the capital city, which has been under siege by forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
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A child on a wheelchair rests on a street in Eastern Ghouta in Damascus January 3, 2014.
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A girl covers herself with sackcloth due to a shortage in blankets in eastern Ghouta near Damascus January 6, 2014.
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Men hold up a baby saved from under rubble and who survived what activists say was an airstrike by forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the Duma neighbourhood of Damascus January 7, 2014.
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A boy, affected by what was later identified as a sarin gas attack, breathes through an oxygen mask in the Damascus suburb of Saqba, August 21, 2013.
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A youth who survived the sarin gas attack cries as he takes shelter inside a mosque in the Duma neighbourhood of Damascus August 21, 2013.
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A child refugee from the northern province of Raqqa in Syria reacts from the cold weather in a Syrian refugee camp beside a Lebanese border town December 12, 2013.
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Mounzer, 14, does his homework along a street due to an electricity shortage in the Duma neighbourhood of Damascus October 31, 2013.
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Children affected by the August 21 sarin gas attack breathe through oxygen masks in a Damascus suburb.
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A boy places a gallon of water on his bicycle due to water shortage in the Duma neighbourhood of Damascus November 12, 2013.
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TRAGIC: A damaged school is pictured in Mork town, Syria, April 26, 2014.
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A man carries a boy that survived shelling by forces loyal to Syria's president Bashar Al-Assad in Aleppo April 27, 2014.
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A boy runs from rising smoke after what activists said were explosive barrels thrown by government forces in Aleppo April 27, 2014.
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LOST GENERATION: A boy standing with a rifle and holding an ice cream cone in Aleppo, Syria, says he is a fighter with the Suqoor Al Sham group, a member of the Islamic Front.
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LOST: A young child walks through an alley in Aleppo.
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CHILD FIGHTERs: Free Syrian Army fighters Hadi, 15, and Mohamad-Noor, 14, prepare their weapons at the frontline in Aleppo on March 13, 2014. Noor and Hadi joined the Free Syrian Army six months ago along with their friend Khaled who died from sniper fire. Noor's father died from sniper fire too.
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Children react next to the body of their mother after she died what activists said where explosive barrels thrown by government forces in Aleppo on February 22, 2014.
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KIDS AT WAR: Children play with their toy weapons in a damaged school in Deir al-Zor, eastern Syria February 21, 2014.
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ARMED SOCCER: Free Syrian Army fighters, 14-year-old Mohamad-Noor, right, and 15-year-old Hadi, play football with a friend at the front lines in Aleppo March 14, 2014.

It is March 2011 and a group of school children scrawl some anti-government graffiti on a wall in their small Syrian border town.

They are arrested. 

People protest and more than 20 of them are gunned down where they stand by Syrian security forces.

This sparks more protests and before long a full-scale civil war is well on its way to claiming more than 100,000 lives in the next three years.

Those graffiti kids who helped inspire a nation are now in danger of becoming part of a lost generation, doomed by the civil war in their country to a life of despair, diminished opportunities and broken futures.

The United Nations (UN) and its humanitarian partners last week appealed to the world for US$1 billion to prevent this crisis and help the four million Syrian children.

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UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres said at the unveiling of the “No Lost Generation" initiative the future of these children is slipping away.

"But there is still a chance to save them."  

"The world must answer this crisis with immediate, massive international support."

In excess of one million Syrian refugees who have fled to Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Egypt and Iraq are children and more than 425,000 of them under the age of five.

Nearly 8,000 of these children have been identified as separated from their immediate families.

Although lost, they have at least escaped the fate of the 11,420 children aged 17 years and younger that the independent Oxford Research Group estimates have been killed in the Syrian conflict.

Included in that figure is 764 cases of summary execution and 389 cases of sniper fire with clear evidence of children being specifically targeted, the group said.

For who survived and continue to endure the war there is faint hope.

In nine days time the first direct talks between the opposition and President Bashar al-Assad's government - set for January 22 in Switzerland and dubbed "Geneva 2" - although Western backers have struggled to unify rebel groups.

The "Friends of Syria", an alliance of mainly Western and Gulf Arab countries who oppose Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, urged opposition groups to attend this month's peace talks, saying there was no other route to a political solution.

The main political opposition body in exile, the Syrian National Coalition (SNC), has been plagued by internal bickering. 

It postponed a decision on whether to attend until next week after nearly a quarter of its 121 members threatened to resign following after the re-election of its Saudi-backed leader, Ahmad al-Jarba.

As the political power players squabble, the one group who will continue to feel the backlash of this civil war are the children.

Fairfax Media