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

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

 

In Sickness and in Health: 'I'm really happy to be alive and to see Rebecca'

Rebecca Armstrong
Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine