“We used to think about being doctors or teachers. Now all we think about is how to feed our families. We’re carrying a heavy load on our shoulders. It’s beyond our age.” A 17-year-old Syrian refugee in Turkey said.
A study on the experiences of over 500 youths in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq, through focus group discussions and in-depth interviews showed the needs, aspirations and challenges faced by displaced and local community youth aged between 15 and 24. The study confirmed that across the Middle East, a whole generation of young people from Syria and refugee-hosting countries is losing hope in the future and readiness to take the risky route to Europe in search of a better life. Lack of opportunities, harassment, exploitation, discrimination and movement restrictions dominate the lives of young refugees, displaced and local youths across Syria’s neighbouring countries with little help from the authorities and the humanitarian responses to the ongoing crises. Living in insecurity and often in conditions of extreme poverty, they are faced with many barriers to accessing education and economic opportunities. They have only very limited chances to engage in social and civic activities and feel disempowered and frustrated.
Refugee youths from Syria face the greatest challenges, with hundreds of thousands forced to live without valid legal documents, such as residency visas or work permits which directly impacts their freedom of movement and access to services and jobs. However, the immense pressures placed on the resources of refugee-hosting countries mean that local community youths are also struggling. While some of the difficulties they face predate the current conflicts, the large influx of newcomers to their communities has impacted negatively on their lives and has increased their concerns about the future. Such challenges have caused resentment towards refugees and/or Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), which threatens social cohesion as well as community stability, security, and prosperity.
Meditation on scriptures:
But God will never forget the needy; the hope of the afflicted will never perish. (Psalms 9: 18)
Pray for the world:
- Remember the displaced youth. May countries make timely response to protect their rights.
- Refugees leave their homeland because of the threat of civil war and terrorism, pray that the war and conflict will cease soon and there will be enduring peace in the Middle East.
- Hope that the refugee youth can return to their homelands and re-build their countries. Also pray for effective measures to ensure that the youths in the Middle East are supported to live out their potential.