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March 18, 2021

A decade on, Syrian refugees share their stories of hardship and hope

It has been 10 years since the Syrian crisis began. Many Syrians would like to erase memories of these past years as they have become too painful. Their children, on the other hand, won’t remember much from their homeland as many have spent most of their lives as refugees

More than 6.7 million Syrians have been displaced inside Syria and another 6.6 million have been forced to seek refuge outside the country in an effort to escape from what has become the world’s largest refugee crisis. They have lost loved ones, seen their homes destroyed and struggled to survive amid challenging conditions. Yet they refuse to give up their dreams and are finding remarkable ways to rebuild their lives again.

Amal, Alaa, Kholoud, Yaze and Abdul are five of those whose lives have been uprooted due to the crisis. As we mark the 10th anniversary of this tragic crisis, please take a moment and read their stories of resilience:

Amal and Samar

Nine-year-old Amal, originally from Hama, is internally displaced with her family in Aleppo.Amal is one of the many victims of Syria’s brutal war. She lost her right leg eight years ago after a shell exploded in the bedroom where she slept. She was only 10 months old at that time. To save her life, her family moved several times in search of safety before they were able to settle in a dark, small apartment in one of Aleppo’s poorest neighborhoods. 

“The most difficult thing was being displaced time and time again, because every time we moved Amal, her wound would reopen again and bleed. It took seven months for it to heal,” explains Samar,  Amal’s mother.

After several months of treatment, Amal was able to walk again with a prosthetic leg. Now, the nine-year-old girl walks to school alone and has made many friends. She dreams of becoming a lawyer one day. “I walk to school alone. I prefer it. It’s not hard,” she says. Like Amal, Syrian children are overcoming incredible obstacles to pursue their dreams.

Nine-year-old Amal, originally from Hama, is internally displaced with her family in Aleppo

Alaa

Syrian refugee Alaa stands in the doorway of the house where she lives with her parents in Amman, Jordan.

“I miss everything about Syria. I was 14 when we left. I miss the mornings at our house, walking to school with my friends and the neighborhood. I have been lucky to complete my education here in Jordan, but what is next? There are no jobs,” explains Alaa.

Alaa’s family was forced to flee Syria after a bomb destroyed the family business in 2012. They found safety in Jordan where they have been living for the past nine years, struggling to make ends meet. 

Alaa recently graduated with a business degree from a local college and has been applying for jobs without success so far. The past months have been particularly hard as most businesses closed during the COVID-19 pandemic, limiting her chances to secure a job. But despite the adversities, Alaa is grateful to be with her parents in a safe place and hopes her situation will change soon.

Kholoud

Kholoud stands with her daughter Gardinyah, 10-years-old, and her son Malek 7-years-old in front of their damaged home in Al Hosn village in the western countryside of Homs.

In recent years, many displaced Syrian families have returned to cities in Syria where the security situation has improved. Such is the case of Kholoud, a mother of nine, who decided to return to her hometown in Al-Hosn, a village in western Syria, after being displaced for two years.

But as soon as she arrived she realized that nothing was the same. The village resembled a ghost town and her house had been partially destroyed during the war. 

“I returned to my house when I learned that our village became safe and accessible, but I found my house burned and destroyed,” she explains.

But this didn’t stop Kholoud. Together with other returnees, she has started cleaning up the town, removing debris from the houses and clearing the ruins. Although she feels lucky that the house survived the fighting, her life is still filled with uncertainty. With no job or savings, raising nine children in a city in ruins won’t be an easy feat.

Yaze

Yaze, a 60-year-old Syrian refugee from Raqaa, sits at home in Amman, Jordan.

“Two olive trees, two chickens and some space to plant vegetables would be enough. And to see my son again,” Yaze shares when asked about her dreams.

The 60-year-old woman lost contact with her son - and only living relative – after she fled Syria and has not been able to reunite with him. She now lives in a one-room rooftop apartment in Amman, Jordan, where she lacks running water, electricity or a refrigerator. While her conditions are tough, Yaze believes she will see her son again and that keeps her strong and praying at night.

Abdul and Odai

Syrian refugee Abdul Hameed and his grandson Odai sit outside their house in Amman, Jordan.

Abdul Hameed has become like a father to his grandson, Odai. He brought the child to live with him in Jordan after his father died and his mother was no longer able to look after him. The 10-year-old now refers to Abdul as baba (dad).

Abdul was a taxi driver back in Syria, but after finding refuge in Jordan he has been forced to resort to many other activities - such as collecting and selling leftover bread – in an effort to pay the rent and raise Odai. His life has turned around the boy who dreams of returning to Syria with his baba one day. “I want to be a pilot so I can fly back to Syria and see Homs from the sky.” 

How you can help Syrian refugees 

The best way to help Syrian refugees rebuild their lives is by becoming  USA for UNHCR’s newest monthly donor. From essential aid to healthcare to education, your donation can offer a lifeline for those who need it most. 

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