Syria: outstanding issues
The second Brussels Conference on Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region is held on 24 and 25 April. It’s an opportunity for Terre des hommes to draw attention to the urgent and acute needs of children affected by the Syrian crisis in the region.
On the ground, the challenges are still enormous. The children in Syria and in neighbouring countries face insecurity, poverty and little hope for the future, nor are they spared the violence. In Lebanon and Jordan, Tdh is currently working to set up a new project* to support the most vulnerable children and their families. Before starting our work, we assessed the local population’s needs.
Abu Ahmed**, a Syrian father from Idlib, has been living with his wife and seven children in a camp on the Bekaa plain in Lebanon since 2014. From his tent, you can see the mountains that form the border with Syria. The whole family lives in this slum along with one hundred other refugees who share a plot of land surrounded by irrigation canals. Abu Ahmed pays the Lebanese owner of the land USD 400 a year to rent it. Electricity costs add up to this.
Abu Ahmed in front of his tent with one of his seven children
“We went from everything to nothing,” Abu Ahmed tells us, with a tired look in his eyes. This former carpenter cannot work in Lebanon because he does not have a work permit. He could do small jobs on the black market, but he no longer has the physical strength or fortitude to do so. His 15-year-old eldest son has therefore taken over. The son does seasonal work on farms or works as a handler in an aluminium plant and is exposed to pesticides and other chemicals on a daily basis. The family lives off his weekly income of USD 30 and the humanitarian aid they receive.
Only three of Abu Ahmed's seven children go to school. “Why? Because the school is a long way away, and we can’t afford the transport,” he explains. At the moment, there is no school support or psychological and social activities for the children in the camp. The parents and children have little choice but to accept work in the fields in the hope that things will improve.
Through its activities in the Bekaa plain, Tdh provides care to the children most affected by the Syrian crisis, be they Syrian, Lebanese or Palestinian. Our teams of psychologists and social workers work with our local partner INSAN to provide individual psychological and social support for the most vulnerable children, as well as informal education, recreational or sports activities. They also raise awareness among the children and their families of the need to protect children.
Our goal is for the children of Abu Ahmed and hundreds of others in Lebanon and Jordan to enjoy a childhood like any other child anywhere in the world; to go to school, have fun, laugh and have hope for the future.
*A project in Lebanon and Jordan supported by AFD funds and an EU financial contribution. This document has been drafted with the financial assistance of the European Union. The views expressed here should in no way be taken to reflect the official position of the European Union.
**To protect the privacy of the person, the name has been changed