International Refugee Rights Association (IRRA) and IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation have broken a new ground with the project called “Unlimited Amusement” for the children of war in Syria. 500 children struggling to survive in the Azez Refugee camps, in Northern Syria, had a lot of fun in the festival and forgot about the traces of war, though for ten days.
DOVES RELEASED FOR PEACE
IRRA has carried out the festival for the internally displaced Syrian children who have never seen anything other than the war and refugee camps in which they were born. The festival for the children in Azez refugee camps in Syria on the border with Turkey started in the International Damascus University, established by IHH in the region after the civil war emerged. Singer Metin Senturk and TV presenter Ikbal Gurpınar performed during the festival. Clowns amused the children by performing acrobatic acts. The children having fun got their face the symbols of the Turkish flag, that are star and crescent, and “the revolution flag”. Senturk and the staff of IRRA have released doves to bring peace to the country. Furthermore, TV presenter and actor Huseyin Goncagul and his team have taken on the stage and made the children have unforgettable times.
IRRA WANTS TO MAKE CHILDREN FORGET THE WAR
10.000 children in 6 container camps of Azez were born to warfare which became a part of their daily life. Most of the refugee children was born during the war and had never been to cinema, theatre and part of any event such as arts workshops and painting. IRRA wanted to make an exception to this general situation and took an action by preparing the project called “Unlimited Amusement”. The volunteers for the association is willing to bring the children together, who have been witnessing to the most bitter side of the war, through street games, theatre, competitions and presentations and relieve their suffering to a little extent.
THE RIGHT TO LIFE IS NOT RECOGNIZED
The president of IRRA, Atty. Ugur Yildirim, said: “Today, refugee children across the world are being the target of xenophobia and discrimination both in the transit and destination countries. The children suffering from periodical traumas in the environment of violence, fear and hardships are deprived of their right to education and moreover -as a result of this- they are under the danger of being crime-prone individuals. Several states close their eyes and ears to human rights violations and consider that the future of human being lies on protecting and educating only the children of their own national. As a result, through this cruel and egoistic policies, unfair societies are being created, which do not recognize the right to life of others but themselves.
Refugee camps are the areas where life conditions are extremely heavy particularly for children. It would be a nightmare for a child to stay in those areas even for one week, let alone for years, in the time when she gradually recognizes the world. The pain the children suffer increases in the camps near the border. It is apparent that ongoing conflicts and the lack of safety and security on the borders will leave ineffaceable traces on the children grown up in an environment of full of weapons. In order to recover this, first and foremost, an environment that is suitable for children’s mental health and wellbeing must be created. We are aiming to reach those children, who are deprived of such an environment, through our ten days of short-term festival. Our long-term objective will remain to be ensuring that refugee children access to the environment they deserve through all kinds of social and legal campaigns and initiatives.
Our sole purpose as IRRA is, beyond fighting against the human rights violations that refugees are subjected, to prevent those violations and finally eliminate the root causes of refugee flows. One of the important goals of IRRA is to ensure that refugee children have a life standard in compliance with children’s rights.
On behalf of our children and IRRA, I would like to thank Deputy Mayor of Kilis, Deputy Governor of Kilis and honorable performers, authors and members of press who are here with us today; in our step through our festival [in Azez] carried out in the shadow of dire consequences of the war, hoping to be a light in the darkness towards recovering the plight of the oppressed and victimized refugee children who are in an unequal condition compared to their peers. We reiterate that being a refugee has never ever been a matter of choice, considering the fact that all our guests here with us believe in this truth. Refugehood is a matter that is in pursuit of us as a people who are the citizens of a country bordering with the battlefield, and that who the next target of it can never be known. Thanks to the festival, we have removed the borders which actually have never had a place in the geography in our heart. Those children will always be our children, so their sufferings will be.”
SOUNDS OF CHILDREN, INSTEAD THAT OF WAR
Huseyin Oruç, the board member of the festival’s co-organizer IHH, said “the Assad regime’s jets were flying over us when we came to Azez 7 years ago. Nobody did not know what to do. Today, however, two things made me happy. First it is beautiful that the children are having fun. It is the first time in the events I have so far attended that the sounds of children are accompanying us. Second is the IHH International Damascus University. The students studying in this university will be our future and leading to the process of post-conflict peacebuilding and reconstruction of Syria. May the God be pleased with those who has contributed to all these facilities. While distributing humanitarian aid everyday to those who are in need here, we also entertain the children with the help of IRRA. We are thankful for those who joined our festival.”
“WE HAD A LOT OF FUN”
Iman Cud, 9, who has attended to the festival said: “We fled Daesh to Azez and settled in a camp. We had a lot of fun in the festival Turkey organized. I thank Turkey and those who organized this event.” Aysha Al-Hassan, 8, said “I am from Aleppo. I wish such festivals keep going. I missed Aleppo too much, I hope this festival will take place in there as well.”
ENTERTAINMENT FOR 10 DAYS
Cinema, theatre, street games and competitions have been held everyday during the festival for 1000 children. We aim to reach all the children of Azez in this 10 days. With this festival, we wanted to offer a program which will make those children, who have seen nothing but the war in their short life and even cannot dream other than it, happy at least for a while.
There are millions of people displaced who fled the place where they live in due to persecution or fear of persecution, war or armed conflict. More than 650.000 people died and ten million people were displaced during the civil war in Syria which has been a stage of the most violent armed conflicts of the last century in the Middle East. One million of that ten million displaced people have taken refuge in the places where they considered safe near Turkish border but inside of Syria. 31 refugee camps have been so far established in the areas in question.
Millions of children are growing up in the middle of warfare and migration problems, without accessing to many of their fundamental rights.