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Video: Syrian refugees struggle outside of camps

10-22-2012 14:01 BJT

By CCTV correspondent Tony Cheng

Turkey’s Prime Minister has said that refugee camps on its borders with Syria have now reached their capacity of 100,000. But more than twenty thousand Syrians are living outside the refugee camps, many with only limited access to healthcare and other basic facilities. The exiled Syrians have been trying to establish basic services within their communities, but while the need is great, resources are scare as Tony Cheng reports from the border area.

The bell rings calling these Syrian children back to class. This is their first week back at school. All of them have been displaced by the fighting across the border. For some of the older kids its Arabic class. The curriculum is the same one they studied back at home, with some adaptations. Their teachers have removed all mention of Syria’s ruling Baathist party and President Bashar Al Assad.

For the younger children it’s songs and educational games. The teachers have been trying to keep them engaged to take their mind off the trouble back at home, and the people they left behind. But despite the smiles and laughs, their lives have been uprooted at great cost, and the trauma of the last 12 months has left a profound mark.

Shiri, principal’s assistant, said, "When they draw something, immediately they draw tanks and jet fighters, destroyed houses".

With more than 120,000 Syrian refugees in Turkey there is a great need for schools like this. For those children outside the refugee camps, this is their only option.

Tony Cheng, Turkish-Syrian border, said, "At the moment, there are about 300 students from coming to the school every day from the ages about 5 up to 15. But the headmaster says that in the area alone there are 3 times as many he can’t take in, and he doesn’t have enough resources."

The headmaster says he wishes he could expand, but he has no money, and despite pleas to UNICEF and other organizations, no sponsor has stepped forward. What makes it even harder is that the Turkish authorities have already closed the school down several times.

Mustafa Shakir, principal of Al Bashaar School, said, "They closed us down because the authorities were worried about security and said there were several extremist groups nearby, but they should have found an alternative place, or given us security".

The classrooms might be cramped, school books in short supply, and teachers overworked, but this school is one small sign of hope. And for the children whose lives have been turned upside down, it’s their only chance to have a normal life.

Editor:James |Source: CCTV.com

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