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

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist / Physio / Osteopath

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for o...

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager / Sales Executive - Contract Hire

£35000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leader provides c...

Recruitment Genius: Project Coordinator

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Project Coordinator is requir...

Recruitment Genius: Area Sales Manager - Midlands

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Don’t pity me for eating alone, just give me a better table

Rosie Millard
Aerial view of planned third runway at Heathrow  

Heathrow expansion: This final 'conclusion' has simply fanned the airport flames

Chris Blackhurst
John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy
UK heatwave: Temperature reaches 39.8 degrees on Central Line - the sweatiest place in London

39.8 degrees recorded on Tube

There's hot (London) and too damn hot (the Underground). Simon Usborne braved the Central line to discover what its passengers suffer
Kitchens go hi-tech: From robot chefs to recipe-shopping apps, computerised cooking is coming

Computerised cooking is coming

From apps that automatically make shopping lists from your recipe books to smart ovens and robot chefs, Kevin Maney rounds up innovations to make your mouth water
Jessie Cave interview: The Harry Potter star has published a feminist collection of cartoons

Jessie Cave's feminist cartoons

The Harry Potter star tells Alice Jones how a one-night stand changed her life
Football Beyond Borders: Even the most distruptive pupils score at homework club

Education: Football Beyond Borders

Add football to an after-school homework club, and even the naughtiest boys can score
10 best barbecue books

Fire up the barbie: 10 best barbecue books

We've got Bibles to get you grilling and smoking like a true south American pro
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power
Ron Dennis exclusive: ‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

Ron Dennis shrugs off a poor start to the season in an exclusive interview, and says the glory days will come back
Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most