News / Middle East

    Syrian Refugees Despair After 5 Years of War

    Syrian Refugees Losing Hope After Years of Wari
    X
    Sharon Behn
    March 07, 2016 8:21 PM
    With the war in Syria underway now for five years, refugees who fled to neighboring Iraq see no future for themselves. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Domiz, 60 kilometers from the Syrian border, where thousands of Syrian Kurds are living in cement huts, dreaming of escaping to Europe, regardless of the risks.

    The car ground its way over the gravel dirt road and turned the corner. And there, in the middle of the sprawling Domiz refugee camp, a wedding gown shop. 

    Long pink, white and red dresses hung in the dusty window of the one-room cement brick building topped with red corrugated tin.

    Children play in the dirt road of a Domiz, Iraq, refugee camp (VOA).
    Children play in the dirt road of a Domiz, Iraq, refugee camp (VOA).

    There are many weddings in the camp, home to more than 40,000 Syrians who have fled the war during the past five years. Sometimes there are even mass weddings. Children and babies are everywhere.

    Love, however, is not easy in Domiz.

    Many families are crowded into small cement block units, or tents, and there is not much to do. The pressure of living that way year after year is taking its toll.

    “These refugees have been staying in tents, and you can imagine the issues that we have, be it psychological, or even domestic violence. You have the whole family of seven people living in a small tent,” said Tanya Kareem, head of the UNHCR sub-office in Dohuk, northern Iraq.

    With the war in Syria about to enter its sixth year, donor fatigue is setting in. Kareem said funding constraints are affecting what UNHCR can do for the refugees. 

    Khalisa Sabri Ali weeps as she talks about her son, the sole breadwinner in her family of seven (VOA).
    Khalisa Sabri Ali weeps as she talks about her son, the sole breadwinner in her family of seven (VOA).

    According to UNHCR, there are some 245,000 Syrian refugees in Iraq, most of them in Kurdistan. Khalisa Sabri Ali, a tall woman in her early 30's, has been in the Domiz camp for more than three years. Her morning was spent sitting on a wood bench, holding her younger children, watching the older ones play in the dirt roads. 

    In Syria, Sabri Ali said, she had a house, her husband had a job and she dreamed of her children going to college. Now, she has nothing.

    She stood up, held her green and brown dress a couple of inches above the ground and bent down with a small hand shovel to scrape up a collapsing hill of gravel on the dirt road. 

    Done, she walked down a tiny alleyway between cement block houses, some covered in blue tarp. In the doorway of the space she shared with her five children and disabled husband, she turned and tried to smile.

    In Syria, she continued, her son had been a top student. Now he was the only one working to support the family. She covered her face with her hands as tears poured. One daughter hid in her dress; another started crying.
    Sabri Ali looked up.

    “What was called Syria does not exist anymore. There is nothing now. It is all in ruins. I have no hope that Syria will return to normal. There is no hope, there is nothing. Forget about Syria,” said Sabri Ali.

    She said going to Europe was the only hope, regardless of the risks. Thousands of refugees already have fled to Europe.

    Hussain Ali smiles as he plays with an infant outside his small shop in Domiz, Iraq (VOA).
    Hussain Ali smiles as he plays with an infant outside his small shop in Domiz, Iraq (VOA).

    Hussain Ali’s daughter was one of them. She left in January with her husband and children. She never made it. Like hundreds of others, she drowned during the sea crossing. 

    Even Ali, a lanky man who runs a tiny shop in the camp with the help of a grandson, felt there was little to be gained by staying. He said business was dropping off, and it was becoming harder to get by. 

    “Things are getting worse here. We may have a chance at a better life in Europe, but staying here, it will be even worse,” he said.


    Sharon Behn

    Sharon Behn is a foreign correspondent working out of Voice of America’s headquarters in Washington D.C  Her current beat focuses on political, security and humanitarian developments in Iraq, Syria and Turkey. Follow Sharon on Twitter and on Facebook.

    You May Like

    Chechen Suspected in Istanbul Attack, but Questions Remain

    Turkish sources say North Caucasus militants involved in bombing at Ataturk airport, but name of at least one alleged attacker raises doubts

    With Johnson Out, Can a New ‘Margaret Thatcher’ Save Britain?

    Contest to replace David Cameron as Britain’s prime minister started in earnest Thursday with top candidates outlining strategy to deal with Brexit fallout

    US Finds Progress Slow Against Human Trafficking in Africa

    Africa continues to be a major source and destination for human trafficking of all kinds -- from forced labor to sexual slavery, says State Department report

    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.
    Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Eitheri
    X
    Jim Malone
    June 29, 2016 6:16 PM
    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora