| Apr 27, 2016
Refugees integration and return
“This mural is called ‘Our Community’. All the color represents Syria and Syria is hugging friends, houses, tents (that represent us as refugees). There is a dark side and a good side. Our community also has the ups and downs.”
Sali, 16, a Syrian refugee living in Gaziantep, Turkey
Many of you are reading about the huge influx of refugees into Europe and resulting problems, but in fact less than 10% of Syrian refugees have fled there. Over half of Syrian refugees are located in Turkey, with smaller percentages located in Lebanon and Jordan.1 RIJ funds projects that support refugees in each of these countries. It is our belief that the majority of conflict-displaced refugees want to stay near home, keep in touch with their home communities, visit when possible, and hope to return home soon.
In Turkey, not all Syrian refugee children are able to attend school and those who do go to school may encounter difficulty with the Turkish language. The RIJ-funded SMART (Supporting Amity with Art) project brings together Syrian and Turkish youth, promotes understanding between the two communities, and provides a means of expression that many young refugees feel denied.
In Jordan, the Za’atari Camp houses exclusively Syrian refugees and 1 in 5 households are headed by a woman.2 RIJ funds a project that provides workshops for women in the camp to learn about journalism. They have been able to publish articles on topics of concern to women, thus relieving anxiety amongst women who may be faced with new problems in unfamiliar circumstances. In the same way the SMART project provides youth with a voice, journalism provides these women with a voice.
Lebanon is one of country worst hit by the refugee numbers. It has hosted thousands of Palestinian refugees since 1949 and these same refugees are now hosting Syrian refugees. Almost one-third of the Lebanese population is a refugee and, as a result, resources are extremely limited. In 2016, RIJ’s goal is to fund Syrian teachers who can begin pre-school classes for Syrian refugee children.
Providing opportunities for some kind of normality is essential to allow refugees to integrate into their host communities while staying close to home. Our short-term goal for the refugees we support is to maintain dignity and provide a means of independence, with the long-term goal of a safe and dignified return home.
You are providing these opportunities through your support to RIJ.
1UNHCR Syrian Regional Refugee Response website (http://data.unhcr.org/syrianrefugees/regional.php)
2UNHCR Za’atari Refugee Camp Factsheet, December 2015 (file:///C:/Users/user/Downloads/FACTSHEET-ZaatariRefugeeCamp-December141215.pdf)