For Syria's young refugees, childhood is over

Share
Related Topics

I was in Jordan with Save the Children last week – the second anniversary of the beginning of the conflict in Syria – having a look at the work it is doing with the ever increasing numbers of refugees fleeing over the border from Syria into the Hashemite Kingdom. If the influx continues at current levels, Save the Children estimates that there will be a million Syrian refugees in Jordan by the end of the year. Access is needed within Syria to allow humanitarian aid to reach displaced civilians so that, hopefully, the need for people to leave their country can be alleviated.

I was taken to Zaatari, a refugee camp about nine miles from the border that opened in July, and now has more than 110,000 refugees living in tents and prefabricated accommodation. Basic necessities such as food and water are obviously a priority, with more than 400,00 loaves of bread having to be sourced and handed out every morning. Save the Children organises this, but also strives to do as much as possible for the countless children in the camp. Having to leave your life behind and flee, often under gunfire, to another country forces a child to grow up a lot quicker than normal, and many are very traumatised by their experiences.

I met Ahmed, a 15-year-old from the town of Daraa, whose family crossed the border less than a month ago. It was only recently that both he and his younger siblings had stopped flinching in fear of being bombed every time they heard a plane fly overhead. His whole family of seven live in one tent. Life is especially hard for children, which is why Save the Children has set up "child friendly spaces" where kids can be … kids, and play and learn in relative security. There is also a makeshift football pitch where I met Ahmed and his brother playing in a tournament between various areas of the camp.

The following day, I was in the Jordanian capital of Amman, visiting refugees living in host communities. This is the hidden side of the refugee crisis. I expected all the refugees to be in camps, but two-thirds of them, more than 200,000, are dotted around the country living in basic accommodation and feeling very isolated in  these new circumstances. Save the Children is again busy organising child friendly spaces where kids can meet others in similar situations to themselves, and are able to talk about some of their experiences.

I met another family of nine from Daraa who were all living in one room, and didn't want to be filmed for fear of retribution against relatives still in Syria. Their 14-year-old daughter was clinically depressed and deeply affected by what she had been through. Two weeks after they fled in the middle of the night, they heard that their family home had been burnt to the ground by soldiers.

I came home to my own children of eight and 12, and couldn't even begin to explain to them what kids younger than them were going through right now. Funds are desperately needed, along with political action, to end this conflict as soon as possible.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Process Improvement Analyst (Testing)

£40000 - £45000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Service Delivery Manager - Derivatives, Support,

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Service Delivery Manager - (Derivatives, Support...

Technical Account Manager - Java, FIX Protocol, FIX 5.0, C++

£30000 - £55000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Technical Account Manager - Java,...

WPF .NET Developer

£300 - £350 per day: Harrington Starr: WPF Analyst Programmer NET, WPF, C#, M...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

The daily catch-up: heatwave update; duck tape and market socialism

John Rentoul
David Cameron's 'compassionate conservatism' is now lying on its back  

Tory modernisation has failed under David Cameron

Michael Dugher
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform