Syria’s widows: Hungry and homeless, but undefeated

The Guardian reports: With criminals and rebels helping them on their way, Syria’s army of refugees marches by night, in single file and silence, towards the Jordanian border. More than 140,000 desperate people, many of them women and children, have sought sanctuary from their neighbour since the uprising in their homeland began 13 months ago … and most now face an uncertain future.

Unlike Turkey, Jordan does not have a refugee camp and new arrivals are left to fend for themselves. They escape mostly “through the fence”, too frightened to leave Syria by its official borders.

For some this is because their documents were burned when the army torched their homes; for others it is because they are being hunted by the government because someone in their family is, or was, a fighter.

In Jordan most of the aid they are getting comes from local Islamic and Christian charities with limited resources. They get boxes of food from one group; another donates mattresses and kitchen sets. But it is not enough, and many wonder where the international NGOs are.

“They [the international aid agencies] have a lot of meetings,” said the head of one local charity well known to many refugees. “But I don’t see anything on the ground. There is all this talking and still the Syrians need beds and food and stoves.” Many live in buildings that were formerly abandoned and lack basic necessities like water and ventilation. Some of the poorest families are living in tents made from old jute sacks.

The border town of Mafraq in Jordan now hosts around 10,000 Syrian refugees, almost all from rebel neighbourhoods of the city of Homs, where the fighting has left many of the women widowed.

“Everyone from Homs is either dead or escaped,” said Miriam, a resident of the city who came to Mafraq four months ago. “Even the birds left.” [Continue reading…]

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