Daily Video

April 8, 2013

Syrian Refugees Face Harsh Conditions

Watch Millions of Syrian Refugees Are Uprooted and Unable to Flee on PBS. See more from PBS NewsHour.

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As the death toll from the conflict in Syria continues to climb, many Syrians attempting to flee the violence are stuck in refugee camps that fail to provide safety or basic amenities.

“It’s not safe at all because at the moment the aircraft are over the camp,” said Nawaf al Moussa, a refugee at the Bab al-Hawa camp near the Syrian border with Turkey. “Every day, there is the sound of aircraft because Aleppo, which is 30 kilometers from here, there is war there. We’re not fighters. We came here to feel safe, because we are civilians.

But even when the planes aren’t flying overhead, these refugees deal with even more pressing problems.

“They suffer from lack of food. In the winter, there was no heating units,” said Elizabeth O’Bagy from the Institute for the Study of War. “They’re in freezing temperatures with little clothing options, blankets. All of these are in short supply. Water has often been contaminated.”

Young people have been hit particularly hard. Save the Children estimates that there are two million displaced children in the country, with three out of four having lost a loved one.

While the residents of Bab al-Hawa look to nearby Turkey for greater help, it is unclear if and when it will come.


“We came here and they promised to let us into Turkey. But now we have been here for one month and more, and they don’t allow us to go. There is no village left, so I can’t go back to my village,” – Nawaf al-Moussa, refugee.

Warm up questions

1. Where is Syria? What is happening there?

2. What is a refugee?

3. What is a civil war?

Discussion questions

1. Do you think it’s Turkey’s responsibility to assist with aid these refugees? If not, whose responsibility is it?

2. Do you think the international community should intervene in Syria to prevent the spread of violence?

3. How would you feel if you were a refugee in Syria? What would you do?

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