News / Middle East

Syrian Female-Headed Refugee Families Struggle to Survive

FILE - A Syrian refugee woman hangs laundry at a Syrian refugee camp in the eastern Lebanese town of Majdal Anjar, Lebanon, June 19, 2014.FILE - A Syrian refugee woman hangs laundry at a Syrian refugee camp in the eastern Lebanese town of Majdal Anjar, Lebanon, June 19, 2014.
x
FILE - A Syrian refugee woman hangs laundry at a Syrian refugee camp in the eastern Lebanese town of Majdal Anjar, Lebanon, June 19, 2014.
FILE - A Syrian refugee woman hangs laundry at a Syrian refugee camp in the eastern Lebanese town of Majdal Anjar, Lebanon, June 19, 2014.
Lisa Schlein

A new survey indicates more than 145,000 Syrian refugee families are headed by women who are struggling to make ends meet.  The survey carried out by the U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR) in Egypt, Lebanon, Iraq, and Jordan reports these households are caught in a spiral of poverty, isolation and fear. 

The survey indicates one in four Syrian women who have been forced to flee their homes are faced with the grim prospect of spending their lives in exile alone, without a husband who can help care for them and their families.

This situation would be difficult under any circumstances.  But, it is particularly hard for Syrian refugee women who come from a very traditional, conservative society - a society in which a woman without a man has no status and is treated as an outcast by her community.

UNHCR chief spokeswoman Melissa Fleming told VOA women are traumatized and extremely anxious about how they will live and be able to support their families alone in a foreign country.

“Their biggest anxiety was about money, resources.  They also felt very isolated - frightened to move around, out of the house.  They felt vulnerable to harassment, vulnerable to attacks by men.  So, it is the climate of being a refugee in many cases is extremely worrying and very tough,” she said. 

The UNHCR report is based on the personal testimony of 135 women over a three-month period early this year.  The survey indicates the vast majority of Syrian refugees in the region do not live in camps, which would provide them with a safer environment, regular food and other assistance.  

Instead, it said, they live in towns and cities, in dilapidated shelters and garages, and in rooms rented at exorbitant prices.  It said only one-fifth of refugee women have paid work and many find it hard to get a job.  It said many women face exploitation, are vulnerable to rape, sexual abuse and other forms of intimidation and harassment.  

Syrian Refugees by Country

  • Lebanon: 1,120,518
  • Turkey: 799,291
  • Jordan 605,660
  • Iraq: 220,210
  • Egypt: 138,245

Source: UNHCR

 

The report noted only one-fifth of the Syrian women receive support from other adult relatives and one-third of those surveyed said they do not have enough to eat.

Fleming said many female-headed households that cannot make ends meet are forced to choose between sending their children to school or out to work.

“This is also another huge worry for these women.  First of all, their children have seen things that no child should ever see back home in Syria during the war.  They come out.  They are traumatized.  They have lost friends.  And, the thing that they all want most is for that child to heal and to go back to school.  But, they cannot afford to send that child back to school.  So, they send their child out and think hopefully this is temporary-to work.  Unfortunately, children are also exploited.  They are not paid very much and they are working long hours,” said Fleming.

Since the beginning of the year, the U.N. refugee agency reports it has been registering 100,000 new Syrian refugees every month.  At this rate, it said, it expects the number of Syrian refugees to grow from the current 2.8 million to 3.6 million by the end of the year.  

UNHCR's Melissa Fleming said the explosion of Syrian refugees means more female-headed households will be in need of care and protection.  On the basis of this survey, she says, her agency will work harder to identify vulnerable families and offer them critical assistance.

You May Like

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor warns of obesity’s worldwide health impact More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: eusebio manuel vestias from: Borba
July 09, 2014 10:23 AM
Good Luck women refugee Syria

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs