Syrian children seek refuge in Lebanon
No nation has accepted a larger number of refugees during the three-year-old Syrian conflict than neighboring Lebanon, where the influx of one million Syrians – 500,000 of whom are children—has overwhelmed the country’s infrastructure.
Lebanon, now home to the greatest concentration of refugees worldwide, is a tiny Middle Eastern nation of only four and a half million people. Like neighboring Jordan, Turkey, and Iraq, it is straining its resources and public services to support Syrian families, including the country’s “lost generation” of children, only about a third of whom are enrolled in school.
In Lebanon, Syrian children work to support their families by selling knick-knacks and flowers, cleaning shoes, or laboring in factories, fields and shops.
Photographer Jošt Franko captured the image of 13-year-old Ahmad sitting in the store where he works selling fruit when he’s not in school.
“Ahmad smiles when he talks about Syria, because ‘it is the most beautiful country,’ Franko writes.
“He doesn’t stop smiling, [even] when he talks about [the] heavy bombings in Idlib he witnessed, just this time his eyes are holding up the tears.”
“As adults were picking up bodies, children were helping to pull out the rest of the body parts from the rubble to be buried later, remembers Ahmad. It lasted half an hour. But memory is still alive, just like the war that still did not end: ‘Of course I wanna go back home one day.’”
Born in Slovenia in 1993, Franko documents social issues worldwide.
A third of Syria’s 27 million people have been displaced, and more than 2.5 million have sought refuge beyond the country’s borders. More than 150,000 have been killed since the start of the war in early 2011.