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?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: IT Support Engineer

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity for an I...

Recruitment Genius: Project Assistant

£17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are a leading company in the field ...

Recruitment Genius: DBA Developer - SQL Server

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Office Manager

£26041 - £34876 per annum: Recruitment Genius: There has never been a more exc...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Larry Fink, the boss of fund manager BlackRock , is among those sounding the alarm  

Not all discounts are welcome: Beware the myopia of company bosses

Ben Chu
Cilla Black lived her life in front of the lens, whether on television or her earlier pop career  

Cilla Black dead: A sad farewell to the singer who gave us a 'lorra, lorra laughs'

Gerard Gilbert
Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen