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Adnan, 17 years old Adnan, a young Palestinian refugee from Syria, standing outside the shop where he works in el-Bus camp in South Lebanon

A young man with a heavy burden

As 17-year old Adnan fled from Syria he was forced to quit school. He is now the sole provider for his family. A heavy burden for a young man with dreams of the future.

8/2/2017

Mixed feelings 

“We lived in a constant scare and horror in Syria, but since we moved to Lebanon my children feel more secure,” says Hanadi, Palestinian Refugee woman from Yarmouk Camp in Syria.

Hanadi continues: “I have mixed feelings as a mother, I feel guilty, tired and helpless. Fleeing Syria has taken its toll on my family, it prevented my son Adnan from pursuing his education, and we are depending on his limited income to be able to live as decent as possible.” 

Fled Yarmouk refugee camp

In March 2015, Adnan, a 17-year-old Palestinian from Syria, escaped with his family from Yarmouk refugee camp near Damascus. Yarmouk is home to approximately 160,000 Palestine refugees and has been under siege by ISIS since December 2012. By April 2015, extremist groups had seized over 60 per cent of Yarmouk, displacing thousands of Palestinian refugees and other civilians to the neighboring areas. 

Lacks everything

The vast majority of these refugees fled Syria with no possessions or money and now live in very difficult and often cramped conditions, unable to find any kind of employment to support their families. These families lack everything from food to clothing, from mattresses to cooking equipment, from basic shelter to hygiene items.

Military service is mandatory

In addition to these threats, Adnan also fled Syria to escape the compulsory military service.  According to Article 46 of the Syrian law, "compulsory military service shall be a sacred duty and is regulated by law." Hence, it is mandatory for all “Syrian males” by the age of 18 to enroll for military service.

“They would have taken my son for military service and obliged him to serve in hot zones where battles tend to peak, this is why we escaped, in addition to the ongoing unrests in the region where we lived,” says Hanadi.

Adnan in his living room with his mother Hanadi and his younger brother.

The family entered Lebanon legally in 2015 on a three-month tourist visa. When that visa expired they became illegal refugees in Lebanese territory. They are currently stranded in el- Bus camp, located south of Tyre. Adnan cannot commute, because venturing outside the camp would put him at risk of arrest and ill treatment from the Lebanese security officers.

Received legal support

Adnan spent his first six months in Lebanon without a residency permit until Diakonia’s partner organization, Association Najdeh, offered its support.

 “We received financial and legal support from Association Najdeh which helped us a lot in the beginning, it was a rough start, we could not rent a house, we needed the money for basic daily needs, and the legal support was important for my son to be able to commute safely,” said Hanadi.

Working as a floor manager

Through Association Najdeh’s Protection Program, Adnan was the only one among his family of six to receive legal support given the tight budget of the program and the need to help as many families as possible. He was then able to commute peacefully and work in Beirut; he is currently working in el-Bus camp as a floor manager for a shop selling phone supplies.

Adnan is the only provider for his family, but this came at the expense of his education. In fact, he stopped going to school at the age of 17 when he moved to Lebanon, although he only had one year of high school left to complete.

Hopeful despite all

“It is very difficult to be under such a burden, to feel that my potentials are being wasted, that my sole purpose in life is to provide food for my family while my dream of finishing my studies and becoming an actor is fading day by day,” said Adnan.

As for the work itself, the labor market is very limited in refugee camps. Low wages, combined with menial tasks make it hard to live a decent life. 

In the end, Adnan is hopeful about his future and the future in Syria:

“If the situation in Syria gets better one day, I would like to go back to my old life, to my house, to my studies and perform my own play,” he says.

By: Natacha Moukannas

Sources:

The Crisis in Yarmouk Camp, UNRWA, https://www.unrwa.org/crisis-in-yarmouk
Aid for Syria Crisis Refugees, Welfare Association, http://www.welfareassociation.org.uk/what-we-do/emergency-humanitarian-relief/aid-syria-crisis-refugees
http://www.refworld.org/docid/54042353a.html