Exploitation of Widows and Child Recruitment in Widow Homes

Exploitation of Widows and Child Recruitment in Widow Homes

About Care Facilities Spread Across Northwestern Syria and Southern Turkey

This article was produced within the project «Empowering the Next Generation of Syrian Women Journalists» in partnership between the «Syrian Female Journalists Network» and «UntoldStories». This article was produced under the supervision of journalist Zeina Bitar.”

Siham’s phone (a pseudonym) incessantly rang for two hours. Siham resides in one of the care facilities in southern Turkey. She revealed that these persistent calls were from the director of the facility, pressuring her “urgently and persistently” to consider marrying an “elderly Gulf man who would soon visit them.”

Siham According to Siham, such incidents have been recurring over the years, where marriages are arranged during the brief stays of these men who tour the area. Interestingly, this particular man is known to be a supporter or donor to the facility where Siham resides.

that such stories have been repeated frequently over the past years, where marriages are taking place when this man stays here for a short period and tours the area. It’s not coincidental that this man is one of the supporters or donors to the facility where Siham resides.

Siham opted not to divulge any personal details about herself or the facility, including its name or location, and our investigation was hindered. Previously, a resident who spoke to the media about the facility was expelled along with her children, instilling fear in others and preventing them from speaking out about their experiences in care facilities.

What are care facilities?

In recent years, following a series of disasters in Syria, millions of Syrians have been compelled to migrate and seek refuge elsewhere. With many families losing their primary breadwinners, housing units have been established to accommodate women who have lost their husbands along with their children. These units are commonly referred to as “care facilities” or “widow camps.”

Care facilities have primarily spread in northwest Syria, with some also present in neighboring countries (Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan). Statistics conducted by the GOV AoR team, with support from the Child Protection team in Gaziantep, revealed the existence of at least fifty widow camps in northwest Syria, while there are no accurate statistics on the number of similar camps in neighboring countries or the number of beneficiaries and residents therein.

According to statistics, the camps in northwest Syria host approximately 20,000 women and children. Among them are 6,312 women, 7,027 girls, and 6,012 boys, totaling 19,351 women and children.

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