Anywhere But Syria: How 10 Years of Conflict Left Syria’s Displaced Children Without a Sense of Home

Being forced to flee your home is a life-changing event that often results in negative impacts that persist long after the conflict or disaster that triggered it has ended. To support progress towards a safe and fulfilling future for displaced children, Save the Children emphasises the importance of ensuring that displaced children experience full physical, material, legal and psychosocial safety, all of which are crucial for a child’s survival and development. The aim of this research is to explore in greater detail the elements of a displaced child’s experience that contribute to building their mental health and sense of belonging, also known as “psychosocial safety”. This lesser-explored element of safety is vital to working towards safe and meaningful participation of children in decision-making, supporting positive mental health and wellbeing, in any attempt to meaningfully reduce the vulnerabilities a child experiences as a result of their displacement. Between November-December 2020 Save the Children spoke about the experience of displacement to over 1,900 Syrian children aged 13-17 in Syria (in areas controlled by the Government of Syria), Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and the Netherlands; short surveys were also conducted with parents and caregivers of some participating children. Speaking to children of this age group in particular provided an insight into the views and opinions of Syrian children who are in a particularly important stage of development when it comes to psychosocial safety. Older children in their teens are forming their own identities and starting to make choices about their futures. Through the course of this research, three main topics emerged as contributing to the experience of psychosocial safety for Syrian children growing up in displacement: access to meaningful future opportunities; a sense of connectedness; and agency in decision-making.

Published 2021-03-09

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