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World Refugee Day: The Syrian War Stole These Kids’ Childhood

Children in Jordan’s refugee camps say they miss their old lives in Syria, especially going to school.

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On World Refugee Day, this is from The Quint’s archives. It was published to mark the 5th anniversary of the Syrian war.

About half of the 4.8 million Syrians who fled their homeland are children, and some of the most vulnerable live in dozens of makeshift tent camps, including in Jordan, which has taken in close to 640,000 refugees.

Children in these camps near the northern Jordanian city of Mafraq say they miss their old lives in Syria, especially going to school.

“I remember our home in Syria and my school there. I just want to go back,” says Aloush.

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“I want to become a doctor to be able to help people,” says Bandar.

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The conflict, which entered its sixth year this week, has killed more than 250,000 people in Syria and displaced close to half the pre-war population of 23 million.

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“I used to go to the school back in Hama,” Rakan Raslan, 11, said of his hometown in western Syria. “I used to have friends there. Our home was destroyed in the war and we had to flee to Jordan.”

Rakan said that without an education, his future is in doubt. “The best I can become is a driver,” he said.

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In Jordan, only about 100,000 refugees live in three recognised refugee camps and the rest are scattered across the country. Residents of informal tent camps say they can’t afford rent in Jordanian communities or they want to be close to jobs on farms.

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“I remember nothing from Syria,” says Hammid.

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“I dream of going back to Syria to see my friends Raghd, Halima, and Najwa,” says al-Jassim.

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Raddah So’od, 48, a mother of five, said she arrived in Jordan two years ago, after fleeing the northern Syrian town of Hassakeh. “We left our home due to shelling and bombing,” she said. “My children’s school was bombed, too. There is nothing left for us there.”

“I want to become a teacher,” says Hiba So’od.

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“I remember the sound of bombings on homes in Deir el-Zour,” says Zughayar.

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“I want to go back to Syria but my father told us that he wants to go to The United States of America,” says Mona.

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Yasmeen Mohammed, 11, whose family fled the town of Eastern Ghouta near the Syrian capital, Damascus, said she misses her old life. “All I want is to go back to my school in Syria and see my friends,” she said.

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In Jordan, prospects for the future are dim.

“We were forced to leave Syria, fearing for our children’s lives,” said Bandar al-Humaidy, 42, a father of 13 from Hama. Al-Humaidy now works on a farm near his makeshift tent camp.

“I dream of the day that all this bloodshed will stop and we will go back to our homeland and be able to protect our children and offer them peace and education,” he said.

(Muhammed Muheisen is The Associated Press’ chief photographer for the Middle East, Afghanistan and Pakistan. This has been published in arrangement with The Associated Press.)

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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Topics:  Refugees   World Refugee Day   Jordan 

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