Many Syrian refugee children are being forced to work just to survive after having been displaced by the civil war there. Al-Jazeera reports that thousands are working in fields and factories in Lebanon as refugee families are running out of money.
Thirty-year-old Mahmoud (whose name has been changed to protect his identity) finds work wherever he can. So do his children and his nephews. They’re all Syrian refugees who arrived in Lebanon six months ago with not much more than the clothes they were wearing. Mahmoud’s family and his brother’s family live amid a few scrawny cherry and apricot trees on a windswept patch of a farmer’s field near the Bekaa Valley city of Baalbak, across the border and about 35 miles from Qusair. The stark camp looks like a scene out of John Steinbeck’s Depression-era tale “The Grapes of Wrath,” with a mangy dog guarding the plot’s perimeter, marked by a rusting barbed-wire fence.As the violence continues to get out of hand and the politicians are too stubborn to come up with any kind of deal to end the violence, the children of Syria are the real victims.
Mahmoud’s daughter, Hamra, doesn’t attend school either. She stands near her mother and looks on as her cousins work on the truck. She wants to show visitors that she has contributed to the family’s survival as well. Holding up her hands, she demonstrates how she weaved dried tobacco into bunches last fall. She was working with her family — her mother, cousins and 7-year-old sister were all employed by tobacco farmers in the area.
Children in Syria have been subjected to torture and sexual violence during the years-old civil war, the United Nations has said, calling on both government forces and armed opposition groups to stop the brutal treatment of minors caught up in the conflict.
“Government forces have … been responsible for the arrest, arbitrary detention, ill treatment and torture of children. Armed opposition groups have been responsible for the recruitment and use of children both in combat and support roles, as well as for conducting military operations … in civilian-populated areas,” Ban said.
“Children have been arrested, detained, ill-treated and tortured in detention facilities” by government forces in large-scale arrest campaigns – particularly in 2011 and 2012, Ban indicated in the report.The Oxford Research Group reported that over 11,000 Syrian children have died in the violence:
Among the acts of torture reported were “beatings with metal cables, whips and wooden and metal batons; electric shocks, including to the genitals; the ripping out of fingernails and toenails; sexual violence, including rape or threat of rape; mock executions; cigarette burns; sleep deprivation; solitary confinement; and exposure to the torture of relatives.”
“What is most disturbing about the findings of this report is not only the sheer numbers of children killed in this conflict, but the way they are being killed,” said Hana Salama, a co-author of the report, in a release. “Bombed in their homes, in their communities, during day-to-day activities such as waiting in bread lines or attending school; shot by bullets in crossfire, targeted by snipers, summarily executed, even gassed and tortured. All conflict parties need to take responsibility for the protection of children, and ultimately find a peaceful solution for the war itself.”Now, 20,000 (and counting) refugees are in Turkey:
The United Nations says more than 20,000 Syrians have arrived in Turkey so far this year, with sometimes 1,000 to 2,000 arriving daily. The U.N.'s refugee agency says it's the biggest influx since early 2013. The formal refugee camps in Turkey have been overwhelmed by the influx, and some Syrians lucky enough to enter Turkey are sleeping in the Killis bus station for lack of money to pay for a hotel or apartment. Syrians denied access to Turkey are stuck on the Syrian side of the border in no man’s land.And nobody seems to have any answers.
The last session of the second round of talks in Geneva lasted just 27 minutes — and ended with an apology from United Nations mediator, Lakhdar Brahimi.There are no winners and no good actors in this conflict. And nobody has any plans for providing safe homes for these refugees until such time as the violence has ended.
"I am very, very sorry, and I apologize to the Syrian people that their hopes — which were very, very high that something will happen here," he said. "I apologize to them that on these two rounds, we have not helped them very much."