Syrian children on Europe's fringe

Syrian children on Europe's fringe

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Syrian children play outside a refugee camp in Bulgaria, which has become an entry point to Europe for Syrians fleeing a civil war that has killed at least 130,000 and driven up to a third of the country from their homes.

Children have been hard hit by the conflict, with a November report by a British-based think-tank saying over 11,000 children had been killed, many of them summarily executed or targeted by snipers.

. HARMANLI, Bulgaria. REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov

Children attend a math class at the Harmanli refugee centre 250 km (155 miles) from Sofia. For those families who make the arduous journey from Syria to Bulgaria, they face another uphill struggle to educate their children and provide a sense of normality in a new environment.

Back in Syria, the conflict shows little sign of easing. Syria's first peace talks came close to collapsing before they began on January 24, with the opposition refusing to meet President Bashar al-Assad's delegation and the government threatening to bring its team home.

. SOFIA, Bulgaria. REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov

Children wait as doctors perform medical checkups at a refugee centre in the Bulgarian capital. While volunteers and medics have been able to provide others like them with some basic services, the country has struggled to cope with the growing number of refugees. The army is building a 30-km-long fence along part of the border with Turkey in the face of the influx.

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Slideshow

A Syrian girl looks through a window as she waits for food to be distributed outside a refugee centre.
. SOFIA, Bulgaria. REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov

A Syrian girl looks through a window as she waits for food to be distributed outside a refugee centre.

A volunteer distributes humanitarian aid that was donated by Polish activists and distributed in coordination with Bulgarian volunteers.
. HARMANLI, Bulgaria. REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov

A volunteer distributes humanitarian aid that was donated by Polish activists and distributed in coordination with Bulgarian volunteers.

Syrian children sit on boxes of aid before it is distributed by Bulgarian Red Cross volunteers.
. SOFIA, Bulgaria. REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov

Syrian children sit on boxes of aid before it is distributed by Bulgarian Red Cross volunteers.

A Red Cross volunteer (left) entertains the children as they wait for aid.
. SOFIA, Bulgaria. REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov

A Red Cross volunteer (left) entertains the children as they wait for aid.

A boy plays with a ball at the refugee centre in Harmanli.
. HARMANLI, Bulgaria. REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov

A boy plays with a ball at the refugee centre in Harmanli.

A girl plays on a swing at the refugee centre.
. HARMANLI, Bulgaria. REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov

A girl plays on a swing at the refugee centre.

Two children react to being photographed in Harmanli.
. HARMANLI, Bulgaria. REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov

Two children react to being photographed in Harmanli.

A boy sits on a chair in a field outside the Sofia camp.
. SOFIA, Bulgaria. REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov

A boy sits on a chair in a field outside the Sofia camp.

A boy plays inside lockers in the corridor of a refugee camp.
. SOFIA, Bulgaria. REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov

A boy plays inside lockers in the corridor of a refugee camp.

Members of a family prepare their lunch at a refugee camp.
. SOFIA, Bulgaria. REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov

Members of a family prepare their lunch at a refugee camp.

Syrians refugees share a meal.
. SOFIA, Bulgaria. REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov

Syrians refugees share a meal.

Members of a family settle into a room after moving to a hotel.
. SOFIA, Bulgaria. REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov

Members of a family settle into a room after moving to a hotel.

A woman nurses her sick son at a camp.
. SOFIA, Bulgaria. REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov

A woman nurses her sick son at a camp.

Bulgarian doctors from Alexandrovska University Hospital perform medical checkups on Syrian children.
. SOFIA, Bulgaria. REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov

Bulgarian doctors from Alexandrovska University Hospital perform medical checkups on Syrian children.