World Refugee Day: Ahmed's Journey to Find Peace
Tens of thousands of Syrians have crossed into neighboring Jordan since July 2014. They left home fleeing war, air strikes, and fighting with a single goal in mind: to live in peace. Today, to mark World Refugee Day, we're sharing the story of the hardships, courage, and challenges Syrian refugees face in their struggle to find a safe place to live and work in the wake of war in their home country.
Ahmed lived near the Syria-Jordan border for six months before moving to Jordan's Azraq Refugee Camp.
"I arrived in Jordan on April 26th, more than six months after leaving my home village, Mahin," Ahmed explained. "Before that, I had traveled for four days to reach the border post in Rukban. But I couldn't cross into Jordan at that time, so I remained at the border for six months."
Ahmed left Syria long after the conflict began.
"Things were fairly quiet where I lived until August 2015," he said. "That's when my village was seized." Fighting quickly escalated, and there was no solution for him but to leave.
Unfortunately, he didn't find the peace he sought in Rukban.
"It was extremely disorganized there," he explained. "There were fights, there were attacks — but most importantly, there wasn't enough water and food for everyone."
He was relieved when he received permission to enter Jordanian territory. There, he was immediately transferred to Azraq, where Action Against Hunger is in charge of providing adequate sanitation for the refugees.
Shortly after his arrival, Ahmed applied to volunteer with Action Against Hunger. For the past two weeks, he has been making his rounds between latrine blocks, hammer in hand. He checks to ensure that the doors of the latrines close properly, and that the sanitary facilities are in good condition.
Although the Jordanian government has recently opened up some work opportunities to Syrian refugees living in camps, job options remain very limited. At Azraq, a voluntary system where work is exchanged for compensation has been set up to help some refugees earn income. To enable the greatest number of people to earn a wage, workers are rotated quarterly. Each month, Action Against Hunger helps dozens of refugees benefit from this program. The refugees have a means to earn an income, and the camp in which they live benefits from their labor to maintain its infrastructure.
Ahmed derives a sense of dignity from this work, and he also gets a measure of peace from living in Jordan. But as with most of the refugees, internally displaced people, and asylum seekers whom we recognize on this World Refugee Day — his greatest wish is to return home and live his life normally.
Action Against Hunger is engaged with refugee communites, host communities, and local and global humanitarian partners around the world to meet urgent humanitarian needs of refugees — and to advocate for their protection and wellbeing. We will continue to work where the needs are greatest in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, and Iraq to provide nutrition, water and sanitation, food security and livelihoods, and psychosocial support. Read more about our recent interventions to provide humanitarian assistance and long-term recovery programs, and on helping Syrian refugees cope with the recent difficult winter. Please also learn more about our commitments to build resilience for refugees and populations affected by crisis — and to leave no one behind — that we presented at the World Humanitarian Summit in May 2016 in Istanbul.