THE STORIES BEHIND THE HEADLINES

Abu Dhabi

London

New York

Tuesday 20th March 2018

On World Refugee Day, Syrian refugees in Jordan dream of returning home

Politics

Mohammad Ghazal - 7Dnews London

Sun, 23 Jun 2019 19:55 GMT

ZeidAlloush, a Syrian refugee who lives in Amman, said his longing for returning to his countryside house in Al Ghouta area in Damascus never faded away, although it is still impossible to go back home.

In Al Ghouta, he owned spacious three bed-room house, a small farm and owned car repair shop. He said he led a happy life until on one day his houses was leveled to the ground by an air strike, which forced him to flee with his wife and one daughter to seek a safe Haven in Jordan in 2013.

“It do not regret leaving everything back at that time…I ran for my life and the life of my beloved ones…we had no choice and I thought it be a few months then I will return but that does not seem to be the case unfortunately,” Alloush told 7Dnews.

The 35-year-old man, who lives in an eastern neighborhood in Amman, has four children at present and works as a janitor.

“No single day passes without me thinking of returning home…I want my kids to meet their relatives and extended family as my brothers and sisters are still there, but I cannot go back now,” he added.

“With no house, no shop and no fear for my life and that of my kids I do not think it is a good idea to return home now although I am longing to go back home,” Alloush added.


According to official figures, Jordan is home to around 1.3 million Syrians of whom more than 660,000 are registered with the UNHCR. Of the total number of refugees, only 10 per cent live in camps, while the rest live in major Jordanian cities such as Amman, Irbid and Zarqa.  

Over5whelming majority of Syrians rely on assistance and those who work in the labor market work illegally although the government opened the door for them to obtain work permits to work in some sectors.

Um Salma, another Syrian refugee from Hama who currently lives in Zarqa governorate, said she dreams of returning home in the near future, especially since her daughters are growing up away from their relatives in Syria.

The mother of five said she wishes to return home soon as she does not want her daughters to suffer as her eldest daughter has already suffered a lot.

“When we came to Jordan, we were in a very bad financial condition…my husband could not find any work and we relied on donations and assistance from neighbors,” the mother told 7Dnews.

The mother said the difficult economic conditions “forced her and her husband” to take an unwise decision that they still regret. In 2016, a 27-year old man proposed to their 15-year old daughter and they agreed.

“My husband and I regret saying yes….only one year after her marriage she had a baby and got divorced…she stopped going to school at the age of 15,” Um Salmasaid.

The mother said they had a better life in Hama.

“My husband and I worked as accountants in Syria. We had a good life and our kids used to go to school…the tough economic conditions in Jordan changed our life indeed…We are longing for returning to our home, but with the ongoing uncertainty and fear from revenge we are worried to return,” said Um Salma.

Salma's story is not a rare one as thousands of Syrian refugee girl marry at an early age in Jordan.

The number of Syrian girls leaving school and becoming child brides is on the rise. In 2014, around 15% of all Syrian marriages in Jordan involved a child bride, but the number has risen to 36% in 2018.


According to the latest Population and Housing Census conducted in 2015, there are 414,353 females who married under the age of 18, of which 253,155 are Jordanian, 113,370 are Syrian and 47,883 are females of other nationalities.

For Mahmoud Al Masri, a 48-year old and a father of four, returning home to his house and relatives in Daraa is a key priority, but seems difficult in the meantime.

“In Syria, cost of living is much less expensive than in Amman…I am away from my parents and relatives and my kids are growing up away from their relatives and friends,” Al Masri told 7Dnews.

“I do prefer that my children grow up in their country and live there as soon as possible as one day they will have to return and I hope that day will come soon,” said Al Masri, who lives in HashmiShamali area in Amman.

Syrian refugees, who face difficult conditions amidst cut of aid by international aid organisations, increasingly rely on their children to work and generate income, which results in thousands dropping out of school.

According to UNHCR, over 70,000 officially registered Syrian refugee children are still out of school in Jordan.


Middle East