30 May 13 04 Jun 13

Syrian Voices: Im Younes - "Living in a refugee camp is like having to die very slowly"

Younes is a five month old baby from Dara’a in Syria. He arrived at Zaatari camp in Jordan in February 2013 with his mother, father and seven siblings.  

Younis’ mother, Im Younis, brought her son to the MSF paediatric hospital inside the camp on 10th May 2013. He was diagnosed with gastroenteritis and had to be hospitalised for treatment. Im Younes was so concerned about the health of her son, and at the same time couldn't stop worrying about her other children who were left in the tent.

Life in the camp

“Living in a refugee camp is like having to die very slowly. Yes, you are alive but the life you live is so far from the minimum level of good living conditions. I used to be a school teacher in the village where we lived and our life was a decent one. Look at me and my family now.

“Younes fell ill the day we arrived at the camp due to the cold weather. Now it’s getting hot and he has problems in his stomach. Whether it’s cold or hot his suffering continues. 

“I try to be grateful and thank God that such a hospital providing good care for sick children exists inside the camp. Otherwise, I don’t know what would have happened to my child.

“Although I am at the hospital, my thoughts are with my four girls and three sons who I have left in our tent. Their father was severely injured last year during an airstrike. His leg had to be amputated above the knee and now he needs a caretaker all the time.

Family in Jordan

“My oldest son who is 25-years-old refused to come to Zaatari camp and crossed the border to Lebanon. I haven’t heard from him in a while.

“We have some family members in Amman. They advised us to go there and rent an apartment but it’s too expensive and we can’t afford it just yet. I’m willing to do anything, clean houses and cook food for other families, anything to get us out of Zaatari camp.

“In any case, I have to wait till Younes recovers and he can leave hospital. The nurse told me that he is getting stronger and that we can leave the hospital by tomorrow. He’s able to smile now."

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