(Photo: 8thirty8 Facebook)
The lives of more than 5,000 children may have been lost to the civil war in Syria, according to recent reports, and now Open Doors USA has brought to international attention the testimonies of two young girls living in fear in the country where violence and killings have become almost a part of daily life for the nation's most innocent victims.
"It's scary. We hear a lot of bad stories about what is happening around us. On the streets there are soldiers everywhere. We see smoke from fighting and hear bombings all the time," said 13-year-old Youmna, a Christian girl who lives in Damascus, Syria with her sister, 10-year-old Nashita, according to Open Doors USA.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights claims that around 100,000 people have been killed in the civil war between government forces and rebels, and among those numbers are 5,000 children under the age of 16.
"One day I was going to school by bus when we heard a shooting nearby," said Youmna. "So we all dived down, hiding under our seats, waiting until the shooting was over. Another day when we were at school there was an airplane very close by, threatening to bomb our school. We all had to go into the basement and stay away from the glass."
"My classmates and I were all very scared. Kids around me were crying and shouting at the teachers because they were so afraid. Some called their fathers crying to them that they wanted to go home," Nashita added.
The United Nations office of the Special Representative of the Secretary General for Children and Armed Conflict can verify the reports of children being killed. To make matters worse, the children are sometimes being used as props of the war, and often 10-year-old boys are being used as combatants or porters.
"Syrian children are killed or injured in indiscriminate bombings, shot by snipers, used as human shields or victims of terror attacks," the organization said.
U.N. reports indicate that 1.3 million Syrian refugees have fled to neighboring countries and 4.2 million persons are displaced within Syria, with over half being children.
The two sisters are asking believers all across the globe to pray for their country and the victims of war.
"Please pray for the kids in Syria....that God will stop the bad things that are happening. Pray for the kids that have no food and the kids that lost their houses because of the war. Pray that God will free Syria from this evil and that all the people can come back. And also pray for my friend Lunah, so we can play together again," said Nashita.
"Please heed the requests of Youmna and Nashita to pray for Syria, especially for the innocent victims such as the young children," said Open Doors USA spokesman Jerry Dykstra. "Not only do the children face the daily violence of civil war, but they are also the targets of persecution, including kidnapping, because they are Christians."
Syria is No. 11 on the Open Doors 2013 World Watch List of the worst persecutors of Christians.
Note: The names of the sisters were changed for their protection.