“You are a displaced”, This is not a new label that displaced person hear. Wherever they go, they all know it. This label has been told to the people of occupied Julan for many years and now it is being told to thousands of Syrians from every state, from north to the south.
Maryam, a displaced woman from Damascus who migrated to an area in the northwest of Syria, said; “I do not feel like I am home, the treatment I receive is different to what the local people receive! They look at me in an inferior way”.
As Om Abdo, she also suffered from forced displacement from Aleppo, her home is a tent near Ifrin. She says: “I am in a very bad situation, my family and I do not have any food, all the aid and the subsidies went to the locals and we as refugees only get a very few things”.
Racial discrimination in schools and dispensaries
Amjad is 13 years old, a child from the southern country side of Aleppo and one of the displaced people in the northwest of Syria. He was being discriminated against by his teachers at his school, he got the highest grades but the administration did not honor him but they honored their fellow citizens. Amjad said: “my teacher said that success is for the local people, not for refugees”.
Amjad’s dad confirms his son’s words and he spoke about the psychological crisis that his son has been exposed to as a result of this discrimination; he continues by saying that the refugees’ and displaced people’s children are not given any educational aid such as books and pens like the local children are.
While Batoul, a 33-year-old lady, does not have access to her medication sometimes because the pharmacist in the area she is living in prioritizes his cousins and his neighbors over the refugees. She says: “I went to the medical clinic, and I asked about my medicine but he refuses to give it to me and he told me that he did not have it in the clinic, but he gave the same medicine to his neighbor in front of me.”
Thousands of displaced Syrians in northwest Syria live through difficult unstable humanitarian conditions, that’s because of a lack of food and job opportunities, high prices and housing. In addition to the different environment that they have to live after being displaced by the Syrian regime.
The refugees have not rested yet since their arrival in the north west of Syria where the people of south Damascus and eastern Ghouta were kept waiting in green buses for several days until they let them enter. They were taken to unprepared camps which were not suitable for the huge number of people.
At the beginning, these camps lacked daily essentials such as clean water in addition to people not being able to afford it because it is too expensive, and there are lots of rats, mice, scorpions and poisonous insects, and it is very hot in summer and very cold in winter. The tents may also rot due to rain as they were built on soil.
Furthermore, some villages’ population have become racist and discriminate against the refugees, this makes their life harder.
The psychological impact on refugees and displaced people.
The psychologist Mohamad Al Sayed sees the experiences that forced displacement causes as familial, psychological and social and stated that the loss of affiliation, non-safety, and anxiety about the future and the family fragmentation are all psychiatric disorders.
Al Sayed specifies three essential symptoms of the psychological effect on the refugees, the first one is associated with feelings of loss, where they feel a sense of loss financially and psychologically as well as a loss safety, things, memories, places, and friends to name just a few.
The second one; it affects the personality after displacement, and it is linked to the hard memories and the bitter experiences due to “displacement” which always causes hard experiences that the brain struggles to process, causing trauma, according to Mr. Al Sayed.
The third one is about the future, Al Sayed states that immigrants fear for their families’ future.
Al Sayed said that when immigrants face racism, their fear increases especially towards the place they are living in after displacement. These renewed traumatic situations and memories could interrupt the process of adapting to new environments.
Psychological studies confirm that being affected by racism could lead to long-term side effects, especially for children and teenagers, where this continuous treatment would cause constant anxiety that negatively affects the body and mental health.
Joulan: “frequent displacement”
“a displaced person”, this label has been stuck to my father for ten years and it happened to me as well, that’s what Omar said, he is from Joulan and he got forcibly displaced to the north of Syria. The displacement experience was not easy on Joulan’s people at all, they suffered from racism for many years and it continues even now after being displaced.
Samra, a 43 years old lady who lived in Sbina but now lives in one of the camps near Ifrin, said: if you want to insult someone you say; “you are a displaced person”. That’s how they treated us before, and nothing has changed, we are facing the same discrimination every day.
There are lots of words that Syrians use about the displaced people like; “do you really want to marry a displaced person? \ he does not look like a displaced person! And lots of hurtful phrases that violates human’s dignity.
So duty bearers and organizations that work in north west Syria should take some serious steps in order to confront discrimination against the displaced people, this work should focus on psychological awareness and to give some psychological support to the whole family, in addition to battling against all kinds of discrimination through some awareness activities and integration projects.
We know that all of the Syrian population in general is living un-normal life, through some hard maintenance, security, social circumstances, especially that there are around 6 million people living in the northwest of Syria, so there are no job opportunities available, and most of the people are living on emergency relief aid that organizations in the area are giving to them.