Syrian refugee women mark another Women’s Day away from home

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Jordan’s Zaatari camp is home to thousands of Syrian refugees fleeing their conflict-ridden country.

According the the UNHCR, more than two thirds of these refugees are women and children.

Almost two years into the conflict, the women of the Zaatari camp are marking Women’s Day on March 8, with anger and frustration.

Um Qasem, a Syrian refugee who earns a living for her six children by selling wool in the camp, says they are innocent victims of a bloody conflict,

“We women are lost, we are lost, I am a mother to six children, and I’m a widow, where should I go with my children? We left our homes, our homes were destroyed, our homes are gone. What fault have we done? We have nothing to do with the revolution or anything else.” she said.

After losing her husband in the revolution, Um Qasem found herself in unfamiliar territory of being the sole breadwinner for her family.

“What have we done to deserve being forced into strange land? But we’re here, and I now have to keep my children alive. How can we survive, my children and I, they’re all children, they don’t have a father, they have no one. We have to live, we have to work, work with wool, we have to sell and buy in order to survive. Who will give us? Who will feed us?” she added.

The International Women’s Day was first celebrated in the early 1900’s, and is now observed as an official holiday in many countries around the world.

The day aims to highlight the issues and struggles faced by women.
In this refugee camp, women say they have paid more then the price of the war back home.

“The role of the Syrian woman is very important, she struggled a lot for the revolution, she sacrificed the most, she sacrificed her children. I am the mother of a martyr, I sacrificed my son, he’s been a martyr for two months in Damascus. We sacrificed our children, whom we worked very hard to raise, 20 years we raised them, and we gave them to the revolution,” said Um Mohammed.

After fleeing their homeland, women had to face new struggles at the camps.

Life in the Zaatari refugee camp is rife with obstacles and difficulties.

As the number of refugees in Jordan continues to swell officials in the camp struggle to keep up with the needs of the refugees.

“Here there are a lot of struggles [for women], nothing is available to her, no kitchens, no bathrooms, no electricity, we are washing everything by hand, the water is poisoned, there is gasoline in the water. Here in Zaatari, life for women is very bleak.” added Um Mohammed.

On Wednesday (March 6), the UN refugee agency said one million people have fled Syria, piling pressure on neighboring countries which are struggling to support them.

“The Syrian women face a lot of problems here in the Zaatari camp. Especially in the morning, the congestion is extreme, and the weather is extremely cold for the children when we take them to hospitals, and to distribution points and others. I think there much be more focus on the women here.” said Um Ahmad, a Syrian refugee who fled with her children.

Jordan maintains an open border policy with Syria, and has taken in over 400,000 refugees, according to Jordanian officials.

Despite pledges of $1.5 billion by international donors for a U.N. response plan to help Syria’s displaced, only 25 per cent has been funded, UNHCR said.

In Jordan, energy, water, health and education services are being strained to the limit, the agency added.

Turkey has spent more than $600 million setting up 17 refugee camps, with more under construction.

There is no end in sight for Syria’s civil war and international powers are divided over how to respond to it.

Russia and Shi’ite Iran support their historical ally Syrian president Bashar al- Assad while the United States and Sunni Muslim Gulf countries back the opposition.