The Face of 1 Million Refugees is a Young Mother

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March 28, 2013

UNHCR named Bushra, a 19-year-old mother of two, as the symbolic 1 millionth refugee. Bushra has been living in a dilapidated two-room building in a slum of Tripoli, Lebanon since crossing the border just over two weeks ago.

Her flight to Lebanon was a desperate last measure. She moved with her children from the city of Homs, where she lived, and sought safety in several villages to avoid tanks and shelling and gangs. But soon, she said, the shooting would begin, the shelling would rain down and it would be time to leave.

When UNHCR visited Bushra, she was holding her son Sleiman in the corner where they sleep at night. Her daughter Hanin, aged three, huddled close to her mother in the room they share with 12 other refugees.

Before the conflict, Bushra’s family lived together with her husband’s parents. They had been married five years, and he provided for the family as a truck driver. Bushra’s husband is now missing. “We need help,” Bushra said. “We hope this will end so we can go back to our house. We need to feel peace and stability. We cannot ask for anything more.”

You can watch Bushra share more of her story here.

In December, the UN’s Regional Response Plan for Syrian Refugees estimated that 1.1 million Syrian refugees would arrive in neighboring countries by the end of June 2013.

The Syria crisis has been going on for two years. UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres stated recently, “with a million people in flight, millions more displaced internally, and thousands of people continuing to cross the border every day, Syria is spiraling towards full-scale disaster. We are doing everything we can to help, but the international humanitarian response capacity is dangerously stretched. This tragedy has to be stopped.”

The High Commissioner noted that the impact of this large number of refugees arriving in neighboring countries is severe. Lebanon’s population has increased by as much as 10 percent. Jordan’s energy, water, health and education services are being strained to the limit. Turkey has spent over US$600 million setting up 17 refugee camps, with more under construction. Iraq, juggling its own crisis with more than 1 million Iraqis internally displaced, has received more than 100,000 Syrian refugees in the past year.

“These countries should not only be recognized for their unstinting commitment to keeping their borders open for Syrian refugees, they should be massively supported as well,” said Guterres.

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This is an excerpt from an article on UNHCR.org. Read more here.

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