Syria

More Syrian child brides in Jordan amid poverty and uncertainty

They typically marry fellow Syrians who are just a few years older, often without a steady job—a constellation that helps perpetuate poverty. And they …

by · Monday, 7 August 2017 · Jordan, Philippines, Syria

Syrian families struggle to survive in besieged east Ghouta

The scale of destruction and depth of suffering is mind-blowing. It is hard to imagine life in these conditions. These are the thoughts that hit me as we arrived in the so-called ‘buffer zone’ just outside of besieged Al-Nashabiyeh in east Ghouta, rural Damascus. Burnt trees, rubble, and damaged buildings lined the streets as we entered the town to deliver aid as part of a joint United Nations, International Red Cross and Syrian Arab Red Crescent aid convoy. It was the first humanitarian aid to reach the area since the conflict in Syria started seven years ago. I accompanied the…

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by · Tuesday, 1 August 2017 · Syria

The children of Jordan’s Za’atari refugee camp, five years on

“I was a little girl when I came from Syria, I was 11 years old and just thinking about toys; now I have grown up,” says Omaima, as the 16 year old reflects on her time in Za’atari, nearly one third of her life. “I used to think that when I got to the camp it would be like a picnic, like a garden to play with my friends. Then I was shocked, the scenery was intimidating. But school existed, so I was happy. I could register and go back to school,” she says. And that’s exactly what Omaima did,…

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by · Friday, 28 July 2017 · Jordan, Syria

Three years without a home

“I’m from Zummar, a village close to the Syrian border. It’s been three years since my family and I left there. We had to go because of all the rockets and things. It was really dangerous. So we went to Mosul.” “I used to go to school in Zummar, but not in Mosul. I don’t know how to read or write. It’s been so long since I was in school that I don’t really remember how to. So how would I go back to school?” Slight and with a boyish voice, Rayan speaks loudly to be heard over the chatter…

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by · Thursday, 13 July 2017 · Iraq, Syria
Three threats to Afghanistan’s future: Rising poverty, insecurity, sluggish growth

Three threats to Afghanistan’s future: Rising poverty, insecurity, sluggish growth

Last week, a tanker truck, one of many roaming the streets of Kabul, navigated through bumper-to-bumper traffic, going past government buildings and embassies, to Zanbaq Square. When stopped at a checkpoint, more than 1,500 kg of explosives that had been hidden in the tank were detonated. It was 8:22 am and many Afghans were on their way to work and children were going to school. The explosion killed 150 commuters and bystanders, and injured hundreds more. This is just one of many incidents that affects Afghans’ lives and livelihoods.

Conflict has constantly increased over the past years, spreading to most of Afghanistan, with the number of security incidents and civilian casualties breaking records in 2016. According to the Global Peace Index, Afghanistan was the fourth least peaceful country on earth in 2016, after Syria, South Sudan, and Iraq. The intensification and the geographical reach of conflict has increased the number of people internally displaced. According to the latest United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) data, over 670,000 people were internally displaced in 2016 alone.

Against this backdrop, our recent World Bank report, the “Afghanistan Poverty Status Update: Progress at Risk”, shows that not surprisingly violence and insecurity pose increasing risks to the welfare of Afghan households. Approximately 17 percent of households reported exposure to security-related shocks in 2013–14, up from 15 percent in 2011–12 according to data from the Afghanistan Living Conditions Survey (ALCS)[1]. This is largely in line with the actual incidence of conflict incidents as reported by the United Nations Department of Safety and Security (UNDSS).

by · Sunday, 11 June 2017 · Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria

Syrian diaries: A single mother’s journey of hope and fear

Being a mother is miraculous. But for me, being forced live far away from my children just to put bread on the table, has turned this blessing into a curse. Being a Syrian mother in this time of war is my life challenge – a reason to fight, survive and win. This is what I tell myself every morning before I head off to work. I think of my two children who I left in war-torn Aleppo while I work in Homs, a 4-hour drive and 12 checkpoints away. I am a single mother of two beautiful children: Nehal, my…

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by · Sunday, 14 May 2017 · Syria

Remember them all: A portrait of Aya

Our small nonprofit, the Memory Project, has been organizing high school art students to create portraits for children in vulnerable situations for a dozen years. The Memory Project gathers photos of children and sends them to art students in US high schools who study the photos to create drawings and paintings which are then delivered, as finished portraits, to the children as gifts. Since the project began in 2004, participating art students have created more than 100,000 portraits for children from 43 countries. I live and breathe this work, but never, ever, have I felt as motivated as I did…

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by · Friday, 24 March 2017 · Syria

A Syrian refugee is the first student in three generations

Last week I was welcomed by Sidra’s family into their home in Erbil in the Kurdistan region of Iraq. Her family fled the conflict in Syria in late 2013. Sidra lives with her parents, grandparents, two uncles and their families, one aunt, and six siblings. The three-room house is unfinished, with unpainted walls, no locks and only one toilet for the large family. They haven’t paid the rent for the past few months, but luckily the owner understands their situation and has been generous enough not to demand it. Sidra (9) and her siblings Silva (12), Mohammad (10) and Shireen…

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by · Friday, 17 March 2017 · Iraq, Syria

The sun rises from the rubble: Syrian children’s journey of hope

“Mother, this area has a nice echo…” said 10 year-old Ansam when she reached a destroyed town in rural Damascus that serves as the shocking backdrop of our music video marking six years of a horrifying conflict in Syria. I first met Ansam when she walked onto the stage of the Damascus Opera house last December, with so much confidence and poise, wearing a beautiful powder dress and her long black hair down. That day, together with 100 other children from shelters across Syria, she performed songs of hope, resilience and a desire to return to a peaceful Syria, marking…

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by · Wednesday, 15 March 2017 · Syria

As long as I am alive, I will keep dreaming

“To have the courage to dream despite war is where life starts.” This is the topic I want to discuss before I discuss myself. I want to explain each word in detail so that when I talk about myself you will understand who I am. In my opinion, courage is a very difficult thing. Only those who are so strong or those who have nothing to lose are courageous. You write the storyline of your life and make memories while you are young. And at this stage of your life, you can decide whether you will be strong or turn…

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by · Tuesday, 14 March 2017 · Syria