Schools are usually deserted in Damascus, Syria at this time of
year, as children enjoy their summer break. This year, however, the
classrooms are full.
Lebanese families have taken shelter in schools after crossing the
Syrian border to escape the escalating violence. Many no longer have a
home to return to.
“For my children”5-year-old Ahlam and her family have been housed in a school for
blind children in the heart of Damascus. She fled her home town, Janta
in South Lebanon, which has witnessed some of the worst destruction in
the conflict so far.
As she held
her baby girl, Zainab, tightly in her arms, she said, “We had a normal
life and we had our own house. Insha’Allah (God-willing) I will go back
but I do not know anything about the condition of my house. All the
area was bombed. I would rather be there but I came here for my
government is providing aid and refuge for thousands of Lebanese
families across the country but if the conflict continues the strain
will be too great for the authorities. Islamic Relief is distributing
powdered milk for refugee children like Zainab, under the age of two.
Rebab, aged 35, has five children including eleven-month old Fatima.
She fled with her daughter and four-year-old son from the Lebanese city
of Baalbeck. Her husband and three of her sons, aged 14, 15 and 16
“I came because of
the children,” she said. “The bombing was very intense. My husband and
the other children stayed because they did not want to leave their
land. Even if the conditions do not get better we would like to go
Despite the obvious
danger it is clear that most Lebanese refugees in Syria would like to
return to their country. “We had a good life and now everything has
been turned upside down. My son is in shock and he keeps putting his
hands on his face. He does not want to go back because he is scared.”
“Our family may die any time”
Down the corridor in a deserted classroom one-year-old Leila lies
wide awake, holding a milk bottle close to her face. Her father Naji,
aged 36, and her mother Sana, aged 31, are both teachers. Leila also
has a younger brother, Rami, aged three.
family fled from the city of Khiyam in southern Lebanon. They have been
living in the school in Damascus for thirteen days.
area was bombed and the houses have been demolished,” the parents told
Islamic Relief. “We came here for the children. The people are scared.
Our family is in Baalbeck. When we ring them they say that they may die
any time because of the bombing.”
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