In Jordan camp, a new generation of Syrians born in exile

MAFRAQ, Jordan – Ten years after fleeing war in her native Syria, Hadeel is expecting a third child, brought into a life of poverty and uncertainty at the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan.

The squalid camp, 50 kilometres (30 miles) north of the capital Amman, is home to some 80,000 Syrian refugees, according to the United Nations.

Half of the camp’s residents are children, and many have no memory of Syria.

“I was hoping to be at home, in my country,” Hadeel said, asking to use a pseudonym for safety concerns.

“Fate decided I would be here, get married and give birth to my children here.”

Like most refugees in the camp, she and her family arrived from Syria’s southern Daraa province, the cradle of the 2011 uprising against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

The ensuing war has killed nearly half a million people and displaced around half of the country’s pre-war population.

Hadeel, who is six months pregnant, married a Syrian refugee who also lives in Zaatari, and the couple have two children, aged six and seven.

At least 168,500 Syrian babies have been born in Jordan since 2014, according to the UN, part of an estimated one million children born to Syrians in exile across the world over the same period.

Many are born in overcrowded refugee camps, with limited access to education and the threat of child labour and forced marriage hanging over them.

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