News

Syrian Children Find Shelter in Turkey Camp

Rudi Bakhtiar

Syrians of all ages are trying to flee their country to escape the violence there.

Reyhanli Refugee Camp in Turkey, just across the Syrian border, is home to more than 3,000 refugees, many of them children.

The Turkish government provides the basics - even a school, a playground and some modest toys.

At first glance, the kids are playful, giving the V sign for victory every chance they get.  But inside the small tents these children now call home, the reality of their lives is harder to hide.

Mustafa Harmoush, 14, came to Turkey with his family eight months ago.

HARMOUSH: "We came by car, and were picked up by three Turkish soldiers and brought to the camp."

REPORTER: "What do you do here?"

HARMOUSH: "Nothing."

Mustafa is the nephew of one the first defectors from Bashar al-Assad's army who was kidnapped and brought back to Syria and forced to confess on national television.

His older cousin was killed and found tied to a tree.

Mustafa's eyes quickly filled with tears when I asked him about Syria.

"They arrested my uncles and killed my uncles," Mustafa said.

Sara, 13, recently arrived here from Homs, the focus of an intense military crackdown. She says shelling destroyed her home.

"There was blood all over the place," Sara recalled.  "The government was killing people because they thought they were armed.  But they were not armed. They were peaceful civilians."

Sara says she quit school and leave Homs because the situation for the children, especially the young girls, was extremely dangerous.

"When the revolution started, the regime started abducting students, especially girls. It was too dangerous to go to school. It was like walking on fire," Sara added.

In a letter addressed to her president, Sara writes: "Bashar leave us alone. We are not animals. You make me want to die from grief."

The United Nations says over 400 children have been killed and hundreds injured since the violence began last year. But there is no way to measure the extent of the psychological damage.

The scars of the brutality they've witnessed is painfully evident, not just in their faces, but in their drawings, their playing, and in even in their dreams.

Radwan Hamoudeh, 12, from Idlib insisted he be interviewed.

REPORTER: "What do you want to be when you grow up?

HAMOUDEH: "I want to be a soldier to protect Syria.  Because people are being killed in Syria, and no one is saying anything. These are people. They are human."

Radwan says he's very proud of his father and his uncle who are both members of the Free Syria Army.

HAMOUDEH: "We'd like to be freed from Bashar and this violence in Syria"

REPORTER: "Do you want to go back to Syria?"

HAMOUDEH: "Of course I want to go back."

Despite the tragedy of their past and the hardship of their present, these children here still hold on to hope for their future, hope that they will one day return to a Syria free of violence.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs