The time is now. A generation stands on the threshold of adulthood. Each day that passes degrades our ability to help young Syrians and their peers in the region repair themselves before bitter experience hardens into habit. We can help young Syrians realize their promise as agents of change, peace and stability.
Today, 15 March, marks five years since the absolutely brutal civil war erupted, leaving Syria a broken and divided country. The figures are shocking: Some 6.6 million people are internally displaced within Syria, and 4.6million have fled, mostly living in neighbouring countries such as Turkey, Lebanon or Jordan.
Today marks five years since the start of the conflict in Syria, a grim anniversary of the worst refugee crisis since the Second World War and the worst humanitarian crisis of our time. More than 11million Syrians (half of Syria's pre-war population) have been killed or forced to flee their homes. At the current rate, Syria - one of the cradles of civilization - will be on the brink of extinction in just five years' time. And yet the world has largely stood by, watching with apathy at the sidelines while Syria is destroyed and thousands of Syrians die or brave the European seas to escape the place they once called home.
Syrian women's participation in building peace is not just about seats in Geneva but must reach out to a broad and diverse range of women's groups working with Syrian women affected by the conflict, providing both humanitarian assistance and long-term support to help women's economic and social participation. Simply put, stronger women build stronger nations.
Five years, for any child, feels like a lifetime. For the millions of Syrian children whose lives have been turned upside down by the conflict, these last five years must have felt even longer than that. The conflict in Syria has now raged for half a decade, and in this time the millions of children affected have had to deal with more suffering and heartbreak than most of us will ever experience. The conflict has placed millions of children in terrible danger, and sadly a real end to the turmoil still seems a distant prospect. More than eight million Syrian children are now in urgent need of humanitarian aid in what is the greatest humanitarian crisis since World War II.
The challenge of understanding "who's fighting who" in the conflict in Syria and Iraq has led to a simplified representation of the Kurds solely taking up arms against ISIS. Kurdish groups such as the People's Protection Units (YPG) have indeed proved worthy adversaries to this Islamist extremist group and as allies to the US. However, scores of Iraqi Kurds are also fighting alongside violent extremist groups.
In Syria, massive and systematic violence continues to take place out of sight, in centres of detention away from the war's frontlines. The release of arbitrarily held detainees, including women and children, would be an opportunity to signal a desire to change the status quo and to demonstrate a real willingness to solve the conflict politically.