As the UN General Assembly prepares to host a high-level summit to address the refugee and migrant crisis, the reality for the millions of Syrians who have fled the country since 2011 is one of frustration, insecurity, poverty and statelessness.
In the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan the refugees feel helpless: “We have been here for five years and throughout these years no one has been able to fufill even one percent of their promises. We are hopeful, we have to remain optimistic, but it has been five years, why do they keep lying to us? If they really wanted to solve this problem, they would have done so years ago,” says Abu Yaser a refugee in the Zataari.
The close to five million refugees to have escaped the Syrian conflict are distributed in Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon.
In Lebanon the refugees account for one quarter of population. Authorities have adopted strict employment laws to prevent Syrians for finding work. Those in the camps feel stripped of their dignity:“We want world leaders to pay attention to the situation of Syrian refugees in Lebanon, we have been here for five years of humiliation and suffering. We have no work, no jobs and we have a little money, we thank the the UN and aid agencies for having mercy on us, but there is no work here. We are not working to support ourselves.”
Others just want to return home:
“We ask for one thing only We want to go back to our country, our homes and have our dignity back. We don’t want anything else, we do not want water tanks and toilets, because that is what they have given us. We don’t want that, we just want to go back to our homes.”
Back in the Zaatari camp in Jordon the next generation of Syrian children are being born into a nightmare, for those already there the memory of Syria is fading fast:“My children have forgotten Syria. When we first came here they kept asking me, when will we go back? But now they forget, they’re busy with playing and school, they don’t think about it anymore. If we’re here for two more years we might all forget Syria,” explained Um Ahmad a Syrian mother stranded in Jordon.
The UN says the summit is a “watershed moment to strengthen governance of international migration and a unique opportunity for creating a more responsible, predictable system for responding to large movements of refugees and migrants.”
For those already locked in the current system the torment continues.