Entries marked "Conflict"

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In Lebanon, a Syrian-Palestinian refugee girl looks for her path

By Miriam Azar

A Palestinian girl who fled the Syrian conflict with her family tries to adjust to life in a refugee camp in Beirut, but the challenges are many.

BEIRUT, Lebanon, 7 January 2014 – Aya carefully sweeps the floor of the dimly lit room where she, her four siblings and her parents have lived since they arrived in Lebanon from the Syrian Arab Republic.

“I feel pain,” says Aya softly. “My parents are tired and have nothing.”

© UNICEF Video
Aya’s parents say their children have been out of school for two years now. In Lebanon, they can’t afford to send them to school, as the family barely makes enough to pay rent.

Despite her constant worry for her parents, 10-year-olf Aya has managed to keep her spirits. Her natural smile and sparkling eyes brighten up the somber room as if to match the glittery reflections of the sequins on her shirt.

Aya is one of about 51,000 Palestinians who have fled the Syrian Arab Republic into Lebanon, according to figures from November 2013. More than half are sheltering in the 12 already overcrowded and impoverished Palestinian refugee camps, some of which have existed since 1948. Living conditions are extremely difficult: houses are damp and unventilated, streets are narrow, and the sewage systems flood regularly in winter.

Prior to the Syrian conflict, Lebanon, a country of around 4.2 million, hosted some 260,000 registered Palestinian refugees. The influx of Palestinians from Syria has strained the already limited resources, weak infrastructure and overstretched services available in these existing Palestinian camps.

Aya remembers when she used to have her own separate room, which had toys and even a computer. Here in Lebanon, she passes time alone in front of the family’s rented room, bouncing a ball.

Fear remains

“We escaped because we were concerned for our children, mainly the young ones,” Aya’s mother explains. “My youngest daughter started to be afraid of everything – she never used to be like that.”

Even in this urban refugee camp in Beirut, fear prevails.

“I am afraid of many things,” says Aya. “If my dad goes out, I worry about him, or my younger brother.”

Aya and her family feel out of place, although they live among fellow Palestinians.

“There is discrimination against us,” Aya’s father says. “If you are Syrian, you are considered different – even though at core, I am Palestinian, of the same flesh and blood as them.”

Like her father, Aya feels isolated in this unfamiliar, restrictive place.

© UNICEF Video 'I wish I could be in Syria right now,' Aya says.

Back in Syria, she used to enjoy walking around. In Lebanon, Aya struggles to find her way through the labyrinth of the camp, as she dodges drooping electricity wires and puddles of water along the twisting paths.

“I look around and find myself in a different place – I have no idea how I got here,” says Aya.

She lets out a long, heavy sigh: “I don t have any friends here.”

Hope for the future

Aya’s parents are putting their hopes on her for a brighter future – they want her to become a doctor. But she and her siblings have not been to school for two years.

“My son doesn’t even know how to hold a pen,” says Aya’s mother.

Aya misses her teacher in Syria. She misses the flowers, birds, going to their garden, and visiting her friends.

“I wish I could be in Syria right now. Now, now!”

After this interview took place, a UNICEF colleague advised Aya’s parents where to register their children for school. Aya now attends grade 4, and her brother attends grade 1 at UNRWA schools in the Palestinian camp.

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No lost generation – we must act now

NEW YORK, United States of America, 7 January 2013 – As the Syrian crisis rages on, approaching its fourth year, an entire generation of children is being shaped by violence, displacement and a persistent lack of opportunity – and could be lost forever, with profound long-term consequences for the Syrian Arab Republic, the region and beyond.

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For one Palestinian girl, confidence is found in education and activities

By Monica Awad

KUFR ZEIBAD, State of Palestine, 6 January 2014 – Mariam is 14 years old. She lives in Kufr Zeibad, a tiny village in the northern West Bank. She attends school and will work in the family’s small sewing shop, once she has completed her secondary education.

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A mother flees in search of safety, again – this time in Chad

By Alex Duval Smith

A migrant, a refugee and now a returnee to her native Chad, a mother fleeing violence with her children is still unable to return home.

TISSI, Chad, 2 January 2014 – Khadidja Dramane* has reached the age of 50 without really knowing where to call home. Most recently she fled the Central African Republic. “First the rebels and the Government clashed. Then came the Janjaweed,” she says, referring to militia groups operating in western Sudan. “They are robbers. They kill people, burn villages, then steal the livestock. I travelled for six days on a truck to get here.”

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Podcast #89: Year-end wrap on Beyond School Books: building a peaceful society through education

By Rudina Vojvoda

© UNICEF/UKLA2013-00780/Karin Schermbrucker Iraq, 2013
Children sit at the Child Friendly Space (CFS) in the Domiz refugee camp in Northern Iraq.

NEW YORK, USA, 26 December, 2013 – In this year-end episode of Beyond School Books, we bring you perspectives on peacebuilding from our guests this past year.

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Giving displaced children in Afghanistan an education, and an opportunity

By Thomas Nybo

KABUL, Afghanistan, 23 December 2013 – Before arriving at the Charahi Qambar camp for internally displaced people, 16-year-old Agha LaLay had never attended school. He didn’t know how to read, didn’t know how to write, and his math skills were nonexistent.

That was five years ago. His family, like many of the families here, fled their home in Helmand province to escape constant fighting. They joined thousands of other people living in this camp.

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