Four years of civil war in Syria have left more than 190,000 people dead, while millions have had to flee their homes for safety.
International human rights organisation Amnesty International has started a campaign called #OpenToSyria, encouraging wealthy countries to assist Syrian refugees with resettling in their new countries in order to rebuild their lives and have more stability.
According to Sherif Elsayed-Ali, Amnesty International’s head of refugee and migrant rights, world leaders need to step up and acknowledge the scale of the problem.
“With close to four million refugees, the scale of the crisis is overwhelming. Many of them have been through hell, they have endured heart-breaking ordeals and face daily struggles in their current lives as refugees.”
“Refugees are ordinary people just like the rest of us but their lives have often been catastrophically destroyed as a result of conflict and they are forced to start from scratch,” said Elsayed-Ali.
“This report tells the stories of the real people behind the numbers, in their own words.”
Aged just 23, Yara is a single mother to three sons and one daughter, all under the age of seven. Her two-year-old son Mutanama has an opening in his spine which leaks fluid into his brain. She cannot afford treatment for him and can also not afford the high prices of accommodation rental – over the past two years, Yara and her kids have moved around in Lebanon 15 times. Being single has also left her vulnerable to sexual harassment. Her husband was a prisoner in Syria and she found out that he had been killed after watching a video posted on Youtube.
“Everything is full of difficulties as a refugee,” she says. “A lot of bad people say bad stuff about me and harass me… It’s a difficult life, I can hardly manage.”
Diagnosed with cancer in 2012, life is very uncertain for 12-year-old Elias and his family who fled from Syria to a refugee camp in the Kurdistan region of Iraq, where they’ve now been living for more than a year.
“Life is very difficult here because we need doctors and medication for Elias. We have really suffered to get treatment for him,” says Elias’s father, Maher.
Hamood (21) fled from Syria in March 2013 to Jordan, where he hoped he could safely live as a homosexual man. But as a gay refugee in a predominantly Islamic country, he faces threats and street harassment regularly. His own brother attempted to kill him, and he was raped by six men. Although he longs for his homeland often, it is Europe that he dreams of escaping to. “If I go [to Europe] I will be reborn,” he says.
A refugee from Palestine who lived in Syria up until his home there was bombed and he was injured, Qasim suffers from elephantiasis. His 14-year-old daughter also recently began showing symptoms of the disease, and both of them are in need of urgent medical attention.
“I am waiting to die,” Qasim says. “I really don’t care if I get treated but I want my daughter to get treated.”
– All photographs republished with permission from Amnesty International.