More than 113,000 people have perished since fighting began in Syria two and a half years ago, including 11,420 children. As the death toll continues to mount, an increasing number of Syrians have fled their homes, seeking refuge in neighbouring countries.
Gregory Beals, a writer who has been following the narratives of survivors of conflict for the past three years for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), recorded the moment when refugees first arrive at the Za’atari camp in Jordan and the stories of loss they bring with them.
“I pay close attention to the faces of children,” Beals wrote. “Sometimes I see relief. Most often, I see faces that are painted with a feeling of confusion. Families rest on cots or on mats on the concrete floor before they are registered, provided a tent, blankets, plastic sheeting, cooking utensils and food.
“But the reception center is more than a rest area. It is a memory machine, nurtured by the daily arrival of innocents and their families. They come exhausted from the days of travel, the passage through indescribable violence and the flight across a border. And when they spend their first night having passed the periphery of conflict, Syrian refugees finally have the luxury to begin to safely remember what has happened.”