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

    Top US General: Turkish Media Report ‘Absurd'

    General Dunford rejects ‘irresponsible' claims of coup involvement by former four-star Army General Campbell, who led NATO forces in Afghanistan before retiring earlier this year

    Video Saving Ethiopian Children Thought to Be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at efforts of one African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children

    Protests Over Western Troops Threaten Libyan 'Unity' Government

    Fears mount that Islamist foes of ‘unity' government plan to declare a revolutionaries' council in Tripoli

    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.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora