As tens of thousands of displaced people of Syria’s northern city of Afrin face new threats of military operations by Turkey, it is most of all the children who are suffering under horrendous conditions in refugee camps set up in the Shahba region. This year it will be their fourth winter in tents and camps.
More than 137,000 people were forced to flee Afrin during the Turkish occupation in March 2018. The number of children currently living in five refugee camps for the displaced or abandoned houses is estimated to be nearly 36,000.
Speaking to Hawar News Agency, sociologist Hevin Shamyo listed the conditions children were forced to endure as daily life, confined to tents or ruined buildings, the constant threat of war and violence, psychological and social pressures, the occasional risk of stepping on mines or stumbling upon abandoned guns in playing fields, the shortage of nutritious food, warm clothing, educational material, heating and medicine.
“They are living a life far from normal and displaying tendencies such as stubbornness, rejection of learning and pessimism,” she said.
“While children are active by their nature and need places like parks and gardens to release their energy, there are no such places in refugee camps. The lack of heating, winter clothing, school materials, medicine and food due to the embargo by the Damascus administration make the situation far worse for them especially in the winter months.”
Shamyo concluded with a call to the international community: “I urge the international, legal and humanitarian institutions to look closely into this situation and take the necessary steps.”