Feedback from the Zaatari camp October 2013
Over 180,000 refugees reside at the Zaatari refugee camp on the border of Syria and Jordan. Most refugees have entered the camps empty handed leaving all belongings behind. Al-Imdaad Foundation UK have assisted the refugees for the past 2 years since the conflict started, providing medical aid, shelter, clothing and Orphan/Widow sponsorships.
Most of the refugees are children and many have become orphans. Talking directly with the children and orphans we gain an understanding as to what they face on a daily basis and what they witnessed inside Syria, many stories can be disturbing.
Ilham, 11 years old
11 year old Ilham is a girl from Homs. Her father was killed by the Syrian army. It has been almost two years since Ilham last went to school. “The Syrian army occupied our school and used the premises as a base, so we had to stop attending lessons,” she says. Hundreds of schools have been occupied by the Syrian army and their adversaries in the militarized revolution, the Free Syrian Army, sending hundreds of children home for more than a year. For the past 6 months, Ilham has been sleeping at the Zaatari refugee camp with thousands of other Syrian refugees, mostly children. She sleeps on a mattress on the floor. Ilham rarely smiles, as nightmares give her only couple of hours sleep at night. “I’m afraid they may come for me,” she explains, whilst looking towards the Syrian border.
Omar, 11 years old
We met a boy at the Zaatari camp said “We left Syria because there is so much shelling, so much war, it’s frightening. Once I was asleep and I woke up because I heard the shells fall next to our house. I was so scared that I was dumb-founded as I couldn’t even talk. When they fall they are so loud, it can cause people to go deaf”.
He recalls another incident that “One day I was playing with my cousin and started teasing her and she went home upset. That very same night, a shell demolished her house and she died. I regret that she died feeling sad and started worrying that shells could also destroy our house, but my mother and sister refused to leave Syria. We started living away from my house and were informed heavy bombing had started in my area and destroyed all our houses, we then had no option but to leave.”
Ala’a, 10 years old
Another boy called Ala’a said “I was at school, when the shells started to fall. I ran as fast as I could. I was running and crying at the same time. We were being bombed so we were forced to stay in our homes. We had nothing to eat, no food, no water, no toys, nothing. Food was scarce to find as all the markets and shops were all demolished. To make our food last longer, we just ate once a day. My father went without food for days because there wasn’t enough. I recall watching him tying his stomach with a rope so he wouldn’t feel so hungry. Few days later, men with guns broke into our house and pulled out our food, threw it on the floor and stamped on it so it would be too dirty to eat. Then we had nothing at all. Soon after that we came here to the camps. These memories of what we saw will never leave us.”