Displacement, child labor, begging for money, and rupture in a social fabric… 8 years of Syrian war displaces children, women, and families

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights

September 2019

Over the crisis years in Syria, the world has drawn attention to the economic repercussions of that violent war that nearly torn the country apart, without giving the most important repercussions of that war -which are the social changes and humanitarian impacts on the Syrian citizens- enough attention, that war led to new phenomena the Syrian society have not knew, notably, the street children, homelessness, and begging for money, where the United Nations estimates that the Syrian war has led to the displacement of nearly 5 million children at home and abroad, after they lost their homes and family members and left school.

Despite claims of stability in various areas of control on the Syrian territory; the homelessness phenomenon in general among adults and minors has been largely clear, not only within camps of the displaced people, but throughout the Syrian territory and various areas of control, and through multiple reliable sources, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights sheds the light on this phenomenon.

Street children… A new phenomenon did not stop at the point of begging

The past 8 years have been enough to take the children’s innocence, and instead of being at school receiving science, they become in the streets begging and digging in garbage looking for a living, where the UNICEF estimates that 2.6 million children have been internally displaced in Syria, and 2.5 million children have become refugees in neighboring countries, in conditions that are not much better than what the internally displaced people are suffering, and according to reliable sources who told the Syrian Observatory: there used to be associations working in Syria on the issue of displaced children, especially in the camps of “Tartus”, but the situation is not easy and it does not receive sufficient attention from the various organizations, where the sources indicate that the work of the children has now become begging for money in Damascus area, especially in Jaramana, and the sources pointed out that the street children phenomenon has spread in conjunction with the spread of begging for money, and the children are being used in begging for money for the benefit of people who exploit them.

Sources of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights pointed out that it became normal in the area such as “Jaramana” for the visitor to witness a squadron of displaced children digging in the garbage looking for anything that can be eaten, while the phenomenon of begging spread tremendously, so much that the adult beggars surround themselves with many children or infants on the streets, and they use them to beg for money, so that the money they make do not go to children who are essentially unrelated to the adult female beggar accompanying them, but to those who use them for begging.

On the 3rd of December 2019, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported from the London newspaper “Middle East”, which addressed the phenomenon of street children from another angle, the report did not focus on the phenomenon of begging for money itself, but on the phenomena that accompanied it, citing the child “Ahmad”, who is an 8 years old, where after he was done of a long days he spent in begging for money at Damascus streets, he took refuge in a park in the middle of the city to get a break and reward himself with a “She’ele tube”, which looks like a toothpaste tube and contains a thick adhesive liquid with a very strong smell, it is used as an alternative to drugs because of its low price, where the price of the 130 grams box is 350 Syrian pound, however, it is a toxic substance, and its addiction is listed within the addiction to chemical substances. And according to the same report, although the drug use of the adhesive tube has been known for decades in Syria and abroad; years of war and increasing numbers of children displaced on the streets have made the phenomenon strongly visible in Syrian streets during the day in front of everybody.

Syrian women… Social displacement hits the strings of Syrian society

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights estimates that the number of victims of the crisis in Syria over the 8 years exceeds 370000 casualties, including at least 112000 civilian women, and the high number of war victims has led to the spread of another phenomenon in the Syrian society, which is the phenomenon of the maiden women, where the effects and repercussions of the crisis on the Syrian women are divided into 2 parts according to sources informed who told the Syrian Observatory, the sources indicate that the first part was directly affected by the events, due to the death of a lover, companion, husband, brother, or father, while the second part was indirectly affected, as a result of the increase in number of victims of war (among males), leading to the spread of the maiden phenomenon.

It does not stop at the point of the increased number of maiden women, where reliable sources indicate that no one can know what women who have lost their children or husbands are thinking about, where most of them have fled Syria; while others remain below the poverty line because of the circumstances the Syrian women are suffering. The sources refer to the case of a mother whose son was arrested in Idlib and then he got a release permission but was not released under various pretexts that make him move between different security branches without being released.

According to what sources of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights have monitored, some Syrian women were not materially affected by the war and they are living in some kind of economic prosperity, and after the crisis they went seeking their interests by joining relief and assistance associations. According to informed sources: “the Syrian women participating in aid associations are divided into 2 parts, the first is the honest women because the Syrian women cannot be fooled anymore, and the second section is the average women who are not necessarily dishonest but get a good income through these organizations,” the sources added: “We now note that most of the women who work in the Red Crescent Foundation, cancer control, or any other field, all of them belong to the first lady, i.e. they receive rewarding salaries, and these women are selected if they do not have a political background, some of them may be from high-class families, and there may be those who work in the intelligence services in their families, where some intelligence officers have succeeded in employing their daughters in relief and human rights associations.” And according to reliable information obtained by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights: some Syrian women who preferred to stay in the country were the daughters of well-known and financially comfortable families who lost nothing in the war, but were able to get their male children who are wanted for recruitment out of the country, and the women remained to work in cancer-fighting societies, and others they became active parties in society. As for opposition women, sources of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights indicate that they also work for relief, education, and other humanitarian organizations.

Rich class is only for the regime… and the high prices and bribes hit the middle class

The years of war caused severe damage to the Syrian social fabric, and between displacement, maiden women phenomenon, and other phenomena which are relatively new to the Syrian society, the high prices hit everyone until the rich class disappeared and became only among the regime, while the middle class feels the expensiveness as a result of the high prices, bribes, and other expenses that make this class suffer. And according to reliable sources: “those who can smuggle their children abroad so that they do not join the army do so without hesitation,” while the phenomenon of bribes to avoid the recruitment of family members spread, but it is often found that intermediaries are lying in order to steal citizens’ money without being able to avoid recruiting their sons.

Millions of homeless… Syrians abandon their homes because of the war

In general, Syrians have not survived the effects and repercussions of the war either directly or indirectly, which was clearly shown in number of displaced and homeless people who have left their homes in different areas due to battles, insecurity, instability, and the lack of the simplest needs of living. According to estimates by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights: the number of displaced and homeless people from “Afrin” alone after the Turkish invasion with the Ankara-loyal factions reached 350000 people, they left their homes fearing the brutal treatment by the Turkey-loyal factions, and now live in camps or out in the open at a time when the displaced people from other areas under the control of the factions are being settled in their homes, and on June 14, Rami Abdulrahman the director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, confirmed that more than 300000 Syrian civilians have been displaced and they are living out in the open on the border with Iskenderun brigade, as a result of the military operations launched by the regime and Russia on April 30th, 2019.

In mid-August 2019, the director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights Rami Abdulrahman confirmed that the humanitarian disaster in Idlib has been exacerbated by the Russian – Syrian bombing over the city, where 800000 civilians have been displaced to the northern countryside of Idlib and the western countryside of Aleppo, and the Turkish Forces prevented them from entering “Afrin.” On September the 5th, sources of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitored the poor conditions that the displaced people are living in “al-Ghurabaa” camp and another camp near “Qah” town, where more than 700 displaced families in both camps are suffering from difficult humanitarian conditions, amid increasing numbers of displaced people as thousands of people are displacing to the camps due to losses of the Syrian opposition in tens of areas.

The repercussions of the Syrian war do not stop at the limit of the difficult economic and humanitarian situation, where the homelessness phenomenon and the breakdown of the social fabric in Syria; have become so urgent that they can no longer be ignored, especially the phenomenon of children begging for drugs and “She’ele tube” and using them by the money-begging networks.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights calls on relief organizations and international organizations to pay adequate attention to these relatively new phenomena in the Syrian society, to save children and adults alike from enormous scourges whose future effects have yet to be seen.

Related Articles