Nightly News   |  March 12, 2014

No End in Sight for Syria’s Suffering

A report on both sides of Syria’s border with Bill Neely in Damascus and Dr. Nancy Snyderman in Lebanon.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> tonight, we continue our special coverage on the syria children of war. more than 35,000 people have been killed so far since the war began there. many are children, with are many others wounded. we have reports now from both sides of the border, with bill neely in damascus , and chief medical doctor dr. nancy snyderman in lebanon . we begin at damascus , bill, good evening.

>> reporter: good evening, ann, there was a startling moment for some children here in damascus today. it is not unusual, but it shows why the casualty rate for children in this war are among the highest ever recorded in the middle east . what was unusual today was to see syria's leader out here in public for the first time in months. president assad met women and children who fled the fighting and he promised them help. but it is his troops who have driven most syrians from their homes. this family now lives in a box on the sidewalk, six children who escaped the deadly siege, their father suffering a stroke. and now, their sister was kidnapped at 14. my heart is broken, says her mother. i wonder if she is cold or hungry. i just want her back. a child's life here can be brutal living in a park in dirt and war. prey to disease, food scarce. we want life back the way it was, she says, then, a blast. people are dying here, we just want to have fun he says. then another. the boys flinch. but it is not over and it is not far away . shells are raining on us, he says. there is a hammock in the playground, let's go a man shouts, fast, they don't know which way to turn. war is no game. innocence here is being ripped from a generation. bill neely , nbc news, damascus .

>>> i'm dr. nancy snyderman in lebanon . we're traveling parallel to the syrian border to check up on a woman we met yesterday who checked out of the hospital against medical advice just three hours after giving birth to a new baby. word has it she is not feeling well so we'll go to this refugee camp to check on her and the living conditions . the refugee camp where we found miriam is isolated, very cold, and the conditions horrible. it is the worst i've seen. she shares a small tent with her family, now five children, including the baby boy born yesterday . it is a mud floor and it is wet. there is no insulation, it is just plastic. and this is how people are living in between their homeland and a country that is housing them but they're still not citizens. her husband, yassir, takes us inside the tent where we find miriam lying on a thin, wet mattress. lying next to her is her new baby. the sound you hear is the rain on the tarp. i just saw a leak a few minutes ago and then the lights went out. for the 38,000 children who are born in lebanon but are of syrian heritage, this is a tough way to start a new life. miriam describes feeling cold, exhausted and just terrible. her husband has brought medicine prescribed by one of the doctors. this is so muddy, no drainage, and yet the person who owns this land is charging the people $400 a year to be here. that doesn't sound like a lot of money but when you have one it is a huge price. there is no happy ending here, just reminders everywhere that in this ongoing crisis children's lives are on the line. in the last 48 hours we've seen moments of joy like this newborn nur nursery, but outside, a cold, drenching, pouring rain, which is part of the crisis for the syrian children. as for the little girl with the polio-like symptoms, no word yet on the outcome, we'll keep tabs on her stateside.

>> all right, thank you so much, dr. nancy snyderman and bill neely reporting. and as we reported there are a number of agencies helping these children. we've posted a number