Despite traumas of war, Syrian children in Turkey dream of home

Thu Jan 14, 2016 7:02am EST
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Umit Bektas

YAYLADAGI, Turkey (Reuters) - When nine-year old Ilaf Hassun drew a picture of her home she scrawled a simple house, trees and clouds with smiling faces. Then in thick red pen, she added the figure of a woman clutching her dead child walking towards a cemetery.

Syria's conflict has left hundreds of thousands dead, pushed millions more into exile, and had a profound effect on children who lost their homes or became caught up in the bloodletting.

Hassun and her family are living with nearly 3,000 other people - 1,000 of them under 12 years old - in Yayladagi Refugee Camp, a former tobacco factory converted by the government just across the border from Syria in eastern Turkey. Her father works illegally in Turkey and rarely visits.

She plays with the other children, but her artwork points to the mental scars borne by her and many of the 2.3 million Syrian refugees living in Turkey, more than half of them children. Providing mental security as well as physical shelter is one of the challenges facing Turkish authorities.

A Reuters photo story from various camps in the region shows the children at play and displaying their drawings. It all appears very normal - a girl skips rope, another poses in front of her tent, others weave, teenage boys play football.

To see the photo story, click:

"We have to find a way to let these children forget the war and what they experienced," Ahmet Lutfi Akar, president of the Turkish Red Crescent, told Reuters.

"These (children) grow up in camps. We have to teach this generation that problems can be solved without fighting, and we have to erase the scars of war."   Continued...

Syrian refugee Islem Halife, 11, shows a drawing of her home in Syria, as she sits in a classroom where she learns the Quran in Nizip refugee camp in Gaziantep province, Turkey, December 13, 2015.  REUTERS/Umit Bektas