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Syrian Children Look For Comfort Of Normality In Refugee Camp

Zeina, 10, and her family were displaced three times inside Syria before coming to Jordan in search of safety. Originally from Homs, the scene of some of the worst fighting in the past months, Zeina’s family shuttled across Syria until they ended up in Zaatari camp.

Zaatari Camp, Al Mafraq, JORDAN – As she deals with life in the refugee camp, Zeina looks for ways to do the things she used to do back home in Homs. She likes going to the camp school, sharing some of her mother’s chores and spending time with friends . The friends, however, are the ones  she’s made in the camp or during her flight across the border. 

“I go to school in the mornings and help my mother in the kitchen when I return,” says Zeina whose mother also works as a teacher in the camp school. “I help her as much as I can but I still cannot cook; I’m not old enough,” says the girl whose father had a flourishing furniture business in Homs.

The family, once the proud owners of a big house and two furniture stores in Daraa, has been in the camp for three months and is receiving WFP bi-monthly rations.  “We left everything behind, or what was left of it,” says Zeina’s father Abu Ziyad. “I am now over fifty, I would have stayed and died there if it weren’t for the children; I had to take them to safety and endure life no matter how hard it is.”

Despite seeming  a happy child most of the time, Zeina gets quite terrified and covers her ears whenever she hears a plane overhead or even shouting. “We took her to hospital the other day when there was celebratory gunfire announcing a wedding in the camp ,” her father says. “She was given an injection to calm her down.”

In her simple children’s vocabulary that normally would not include words like “bombardment” or “rockets”, she recounts the horror that drove them out of Homs and ultimately out of their country:  “There was bombardment and they fired bombshells at us, they drove us out of our home,” she says. “They were firing rockets at our house when we were staying there and we hid in a bunker.

There are many children like Zeina who fled the fighting in Syria and poured into neighbouring countries. WFP covers the food needs of refugees in Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey with food distributions and innovative food vouchers. In October, WFP provided food assistance to almost 160,000 refugees in all four countries.