A family reunitedA significant number of separated and unaccompanied children is a direct result of the mass displacement and chaos caused by the crisis in Syria. While some of these children have left to neighboring countries, others are living in institutions or on their own without proper care and supervision. The DRC legal team in Damascus recorded this story of a family reunited.
Photo by DRC: Suhair, with her head wrapped in a black scarf, surrounded by her children in SOS children’s village- Damascus governorate after two years of separation from each other.
Suhair, is a 29 year-old displaced Syrian woman from Idleb governorate. She’s a mother of five children from her first marriage, and one child from her second marriage. Suhair lost her second husband and a child in the war-battered Douma district of Rural Damascus, and later on one of her daughters was kidnapped - her fate remains unknown.
During 2012, Suhair was jailed after being accused of prostitution. Her four children – (aged between 4 and 11 years) from her first marriage - have been given by their grandfather to a woman in Jaramana area of Rural Damascus in order to take care of them for monthly fees. The children have been mistreated by this woman and exposed to violence, neglect and abuse.
Later on, this woman was unwilling to take care of the children anymore, and handed them to the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) in Jaramana, who referred this case immediately to DRC legal team. DRC legal team contacted SOS children’s village- one of the organizations that provides shelter and good care for un-accompanied children in Syria – and kept following up on this case till making sure that the children were in good hands.
On April 2014, Suhair was released from Jail, after proving her innocence from the prostitution accusation. Instantly, she resorted to DRC counselling team, with a quest of meeting her children again, "I am desperate [to be reunited]," she says. "It's hard for me to talk about my children. I miss them so much. When I talk about them, the sadness stays with me for days" she says.
For Suhair, the struggle of getting her children back was a labor of love and she is passionate about it. Her determination is partly fuelled by a feeling of guilt that she’s not taking care of her children; "My children are parentless and alone, with no one to take care of them. I can't sleep!" she sobs, during a meeting with DRC legal counsellor.
Despite the setbacks, and the legal limbo she faced, she has not given up on seeing her children again, and with the support received from the DRC team, Suhair managed to get custody over her children, and to visit SOS village and meet them again.
For the time being, Suhair decided to leave her children under SOS children’s village’s care, until she is able to find a job and provide for them. DRC team is still in direct contact with Suhair and the management of SOS children’s village to respond adequately whenever needed.