“In Syria, I studied, I had lots of friends and did lots of activities outside of school. We came just to spend the summer in Lebanon but then the crisis happened, and we’ve been here for seven years.”
Aya, 24, is one of the more than one million Syrian refugees living in neighbouring Lebanon. It is still a distant dream for Aya and her family to think about returning home, as the Syrian war enters its ninth year today, they feel that it still isn’t safe.
“We have little hope of returning home. And for a young person like me, there are few opportunities. I’m here [in Lebanon] caught in the middle of this conflict.”
The ‘Youth Resolve’ project is a lifeline for Aya and other young Syrian refugees, supported by UK aid agency CAFOD and the EU MADAD Trust Fund – it offers young Syrian and Lebanese people the chance to bridge the divide through job skills training, education, and community activities such as renovating homes in their communities.
“As a young woman and also a Syrian refugee, I think it is my role to raise awareness,” said Aya, “I have studied conflict resolution and when everyone sees that the youth are friends with each other – whether they are Lebanese or Syrians – the tensions can disappear and we can feel more comfortable and have a better understanding between us.”
The UN estimates that the conflict to date has killed over 400,000 people and left 6.1 million people homeless within Syria, with a further five and a half million fleeing to neighbouring countries.
As global leaders meet in Brussels this week, for the third conference on the Syria crisis with the theme of ‘Supporting the future of Syria and the region’ – CAFOD believes that until a political process addresses the underlying issues that led to the Syrian war, there will be no safe future in Syria for Aya and the millions of Syrians caught up in this conflict.
Picture: Aya, 24, is unsure of her future, as she faces the prospect of another year living as a Syrian refugee in Lebanon. (Eleanor Church/CAFOD).