Skip To Content

    The Brutal Struggle Of Syrian Refugee Women Trying To Look After Their Families Alone

    “Their strength is extraordinary, but they are struggling alone."

    Almost 150,000 Syrian refugee women have taken over the responsibility of looking after their families, a new report by the UNHCR has revealed.

    The women’s partners are believed to have died, been captured, are missing or remain stuck in Syria.

    Now the women have shouldered the burden of caring for their families alone.

    Lina has been living in a makeshift tent in Lebanon with her seven children for over a year.

    Three of her children are very ill and though she receives some aid every month, it is not enough for food and medicine.

    “There are days when I cannot give my children medicine. Those days are tough, especially for them, but for me too."

    “I have no choice but to be strong. If I get weak the children will be affected. Sometimes, if my tears drop, I keep them to myself and don’t let them see."

    This is Lina's story:

    View this video on YouTube

    Every day has become a struggle for survival for these women.

    Fadia lives with her four children in an isolated tower outside Tripoli in Lebanon.

    Money is so tight that sometimes Fadia can only cook one meal a day.

    “Every now and then I might buy it, so the children don’t miss it too much.”

    This is Fadia's story:

    View this video on YouTube

    Between February and April the UNHCR spoke to 135 Syrian refugee women.

    The main findings of the Woman Alone – the Fight for Survival by Syrian Refugee Women report were:

    – A third of the women said they did not have enough money to eat properly.

    – Many of the Syrian refugees have reached the end of their savings and have resorted to selling off their wedding rings.

    – 60% feel insecure; one in three are too scared or overwhelmed to leave their homes.

    – They report facing harassment from all quarters, with one woman claiming to have been raped.

    – 95% of the women feel their role has changed for the worse.

    – Many fear their children are taking on too much stress and forced to grow up too soon.

    UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie said: "Syrian refugee women are the glue holding together a broken society."

    António Guterres, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, added: "They have run out of money, face daily threats to their safety, and are being treated as outcasts for no other crime than losing their men to a vicious war."

    Syria is the largest displacement crisis in the world.