Refugees Endure: Marking 10 Years of Conflict in Syria

A Grim Milestone

March 15, 2021 marks 10 years since the beginning of hostilities in Syria. The fighting has destroyed ancient cities, killed hundreds of thousands, displaced about two-thirds of the country’s population, and created extreme hardship for those left behind and for those who fled.

Six million Syrians have sought refuge abroad, many in neighboring countries like Turkey, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt. There are some one million refugees from Syria in Lebanon alone. Tens of thousands of Palestinian refugees in Syria were also compelled to flee their homes, making their families refugees twice over.

Syrian Refugees in Lebanon

Conditions for refugees from Syria are arguably the worst in Lebanon, where most live in informal tented settlements, abandoned buildings, or cramped spaces in decades-old Palestinian camps. Many have only tarp or tin coverings to protect them from rain and the cold and snow of winter months in the mountains. The dirt alleyways that run through the camps often turn to mud and slush. Access to running water and electricity is unreliable.

Despite the terrible conditions, refugees have to worry about paying rent while at the same time trying to provide for their families. Most of the refugees from Syria have experienced trauma — the deaths of family members, physical violence, and the destruction of their homes are events familiar to many of the displaced.

Refugees from Syria have very few legal protections or employment possibilities in Lebanon, and the government does not help them. A generation of young people is missing out on school. 

They wait and wait for news of peace and the chance to safely return to their home country or the opportunity to thrive elsewhere.

Preparing Syrian Refugees for a Brighter Future

From the earliest days of the crisis, Anera has been helping refugees from Syria in Lebanon. All conflicts end eventually and we have been working to help refugees learn, grow and provide in preparation for their future. 

Of the many struggles Syrian refugees in Lebanon face, the one with the most impact on their future is education. The barriers to education facing Syrian youth in Lebanon force many to leave school early. Anera’s non-formal job training and education courses allow young adults and teens to learn basic literacy and math and to build their job skills for the future. Syrian refugee children need this chance to catch up to their peers in the classroom.

Meet Three Young Syrian Refugees With Dreams for the Future

Sana, aspiring journalist 

Sana in profile.
Sana hopes to become a journalist.

“I came with my family to Lebanon in 2016, fleeing the war in Syria. My friend told me about the importance of this center and the educational courses it offers.

“Imagine! I’m 18 years old and I didn’t know how to read and write! But I’m happy now! I’m learning how to read things online, and to read the signs and posters around me.

“I’m also learning English. I want to develop my abilities in order to work later in the field of journalism. Why not? I can do it!” Learn more about Sana.

Ahed, aspiring master technician

UNICEF, Lebanon, Syrian Refugees, vocational education
Ahed is one of Anera’s vocational education students and a Syrian refugee in Lebanon.

“I’m 17 years old. I mean, Lebanon was my childhood [since the age of 7]. Lebanon is all I know!

“I grew up and my father was working on [construction] projects. I would help him sometimes. I just knew that this is not something I wanted to do for the rest of my life. It just wasn’t me.

“[When I learned about Anera’s phone repair course,] my whole life changed. I mean, I felt alive! I’m learning something new and technical, not everyone can be a great technician, but I am one. I want to become a master technician.” Learn more about Ahed.

Fatima,15, aspiring surgeon and singer

Fatima in profile
Fatima is thrilled to be resuming her education

Fatima is enrolled in one of Anera’s basic math and literacy courses funded by UNICEF and offered at one of our local partners in the Shatila Palestinian Refugee Camp in Beirut. She is from the city of Raqqa in Syria but had to flee to escape the war. “The violence destroyed everything I knew,” Fatima says.

Now that she is continuing her studies again the ambitious teen is optimistic and dreaming big.

“I hope for a better future. I want to become a surgeon. Do you think that’s possible? Personally, I trust myself and I am confident that I will achieve my dream.

“Oh! I also have a beautiful voice and I’m a talented singer. I always practice at home. I guess I’ll become a full-time surgeon and a part time singer!”

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