The enduring impact of war on children

Introduction

The Norwegian Refugee Council wanted to raise awareness on the psychological toll of conflict on refugee children. Daniel therefore travelled to Za’atari Refugee Camp in Jordan to speak with children who have experienced traumatic events and were now benefitting from the organisations psychosocial support intervention.

Role

  • Writer
  • Photographer

Publisher

Norwegian Refugee Council

Date

2020

THE STORY

Unable to forget the traumatic events they bear witness to; refugee children are safe from the bombs and bullets but not from the memories that follow them.

Fourteen-year-old Malak was just seven when her home was raided by armed men in Daraa, Syria. She watched in horror as the group beat her uncle and dragged him out of the house. Those moments, whilst hiding under her bed, would be the last time she would see or hear from him.

Shortly after, the family made the decision to flee Syria and embark on the perilous journey south to neighbouring Jordan.

“When we first arrived, we slept in a tent, but we felt safe,” says Malak’s mother, Rehab. “There were no bombs here and that first night in the camp, I slept better than I had for nearly two years.”

But it wasn’t long before Rehab started to notice signs of her daughter’s trauma. “After just two days in the camp, a police car drove past us and upon seeing men in uniform, Malak grabbed her younger siblings and hid them in their tent.”

Malak began to have recurring nightmares about armed men storming her house in the middle of the night and taking her family. “She soon became quiet, defensive and withdrawn,” says her mother.