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Eleven years into the war in Syria, the humanitarian crisis is worse than ever.

More than 13 million Syrians have been affected by the ongoing war and persecution, and 6.2 million, including 2.5 million children, are now internally displaced.

Widow Camps

The brutal war in Syria has left thousands of families without men, leaving women and small children to face these savage war conditions independently.

Hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees live in northwest Syria, most of whom are women and children. 

Widow Camps” is home to tens of thousands of widows, other single women – including women who are divorced or whose husbands are missing – and their children, living in the 28 accessible camps across northwest Syria. 

These women and their children face chronic and high levels of violence, including neglect, verbal, physical, and sexual abuse, as well as child marriage and child labor

Challenges in Widows Camps 

NGO World Vision who has interviewed 419 people in 28 camps, the home to tens of thousands of women, single, divorced, or whose husbands are missing, stated that approximately one in four women said they had witnessed sexual abuse in the camp on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. 

According to NGO report, “Women are not allowed to freely leave the camps, they’re unable to seek paid employment or support their families, some find they have “no choice” but to engage in so-called survival sex with male guards and camp managers.”.

Protection Challenges

A new report has revealed that women and children living in some of the hardest-to-reach camps in north-west Syria face chronic and high levels of violence and depression, with some women forced to engage in “survival sex.” 

Children in so-called “widow camps” are severely neglected, abused, and forced to work, while mothers are psychologically at “breaking point.”

More than 80% of women say they do not have adequate healthcare, and 95% expressed hopelessness.

About 34% of children said they had experienced one or more forms of violence, and 2% said they married young.

Child labor is a big problem, with 58% of boys and 49% of girls aged 11 or older forced to work.

Children Challenges

Both boys and girls in widow camps find themselves forced to face horrible challenges to survive on their own.

Living every single day with no healthcare, no nutrition of any kind, not even clean drinking water and bread, no access to education, not even the ability to move safely from one place to another!

Children at the camp are forced to grow up fast, the girls, in particular, are at higher risk of sexual abuse, and most little girls are married off from the age of 14; as for little refugee girls, they have no other alternative but to marry off from an early age. 

Boys are especially at risk of recruitment into armed groups and later radicalization.

This is because boys older than 11 are considered male adults by the community and are forced to leave the camps with no place to go, no employment prospects, and no future.

  • Ages

Refugee children are the most vulnerable victims in camps. They grow up in the worst living conditions, unable to live an ordinary life, unaware of their human rights, have no access to healthy nutrition or clean water, and have no access to decent healthcare services or education of any kind. 

Refugee children grow up with no self-awareness or self-recognition of their own, victimized by everyone. 

They find themselves victims of child labor, early marriage, ignorance, and violence. 

Boys over 11 years of age are separated from their families are they are considered adults at this age, and girls are married off over 12 or 14 years of age just to survive being sexually abused.

In widow camps, children are denied their rights as children to live healthy, safe lives and are forced to live in unbearable conditions of abuse and violence. 

  • Forced to Work

Refugee children find themselves forced to work to support their families, and whether we’re talking about refugee children in refugee-hosting countries, internally displaced, or refugees living in camps on borders. 

Many families find themselves obliged to send their children to work instead of school just to survive their day.

  • Early Marriage 

All girls at any age are subject to sexual violence and abuse, whether in camps or refugee-hosting countries. Unfortunately, no girl is safe!

Therefore, many families choose to marry off their little girls at a very early age, claiming that this is the best choice for their sad destiny, a way to protect their girls from what is worse.

The sad part of this scenario is the fact that these girls are sexually abused by their partners, who, often, are way much older than them—leaving these girls unprotected victims to their daily abusers.

  • Child Neglect

Child neglect is a common form of child abuse. It is the ongoing failure to meet the child’s basic needs like;

  • Leaving the child hungry or with no healthcare.
  • Leaving the child dirty or without proper clothing.
  • Leaving the child without decent shelter.
  • Leaving the child without supervision or being kept safe.

All these neglect elements can put children and young people in danger and have long-term effects on their physical and mental well-being.

Mental Health 

Women in widow camps and their children wake up every day under constant threat of violence with no means to earn a living and no access to essential services – girls’ rights, in particular, are being compromised, including denial of their right to education.

Movement restrictions drastically impact their lives. 

In contrast to other displaced women in general internally displaced persons (IDP) camps, women in widow camps do not have the right to move freely and are unable to work to support themselves and their children.

In some cases, the women in these camps choose to take their own lives when faced with overwhelming levels of deprivation, stress, and desperation.

Organizations like Bonyan provide full support for widows and orphans in refugee camps, give them a chance at a better healthy life, provide widows and orphans with healthcare services, empower education systems, and help them feel safe and secure.

Your donation will give these refugees a reason to keep going.


What is the Difference Between Widows and Orphans?

Widows are women who have lost their husbands. Orphans are children who’ve lost one of their parents, mainly the father.

How do You Deal with Widows and Orphans?

You give them the emotional, mental, and physical support they need to help them live a normal, healthy, and safe life. 

How Can We Help an Orphaned Child?

You can help an orphaned child by providing for their essential needs through physical, educational, emotional, and medical support and genuinely boosting and caring for their personal development. 

Why Do Orphans the Most Need Help? 

Orphans need help because they are the most vulnerable victims of their surroundings, easily affected by all forms of neglect and violence. Therefore they need protection and support the most.

How to Help Refugee Widows?

Orphans need help because they are the most vulnerable victims of their surroundings, easily affected by neglect and violence. Therefore they need protection and support the most.