Syrian refugee girl in Jordan wears a facemask against COVID-19 as she holds her young child
25th March 2021

The life of a refugee

Fatima shares what it's like to have been a war refugee for ten years

What is a refugee

The Refugee Convention defines a refugee as 'any person who owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his/her nationality and is unable, or owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself/herself of the protection of that country'.

The Syrian war, violence against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar and conflict in South Sudan have caused some of the biggest refugee crises in our recent history. But people are forced to flee their homes because of a multitude of emergencies, not just conflict. With the climate crisis only worsening, it is expected that the number of people seeking refuge from natural disasters like drought, tsunamis and wildfires will continue to increase.

Children often bear the brunt of these emergencies. War, disasters and humanitarian emergencies can deprive children of their homes and security, leaving them open to abuse and extreme poverty. That's when they most need help.

A Syrian refugee story - 10 years on

Fatima, now 18, has spent over half her life as a refugee, because of a war that started in her homeland before she reached her tenth birthday. Her story - sadly familiar to many refugees - shows Fatima's resilience and the importance of helping refugees like her and her child.

Turning pain into action

After years of hardship, things began to turn around for Fatima when a friend told her about a World Vision Support Centre that offers women and girls psychological support and education sessions. The Centre also helps young refugees improve their social and professional skills. “I visited the Centre to see what services were provided, and registered in the young mothers’ club. It was a good experience and I learnt many things that strengthened my self-confidence,” Fatima says.

Emad is a case worker at the Centre who guides Fatima through the programme. She explains that it was Fatima’s idea to engage with other women and girls to put a stop to child marriage. “She wanted to send out a message to women who had an experience similar to her own, seeing what could they could do, what they had to offer to society, and what are the strengths women in this situation should concentrate on.”

Fatima, 18
I felt that I exist, that I am a female that exists in this world.

Fatima, 18

Syrian refugee

Refugee facts and figures

  • Fatima is just one of 25.9 million refugees around the world, the most in global history
  • There is more conflict than ever before across the world, driving hunger and displacement
  • 50% of those displaced from their homes and lives are children
  • Over the past 5 years, to meet the need and attempt to support the vulnerable, World Vision have increased our work in fragile states by 18%

This work is making a difference, and children like Fatima and her son are being supported. 

Meet some other children who have been supported by World Vision supporters.

How you can help refugees

By supporting our emergency response work, you enable us to find children who arrive in refugee camps traumatised and searching for safety. You can help them survive, recover from trauma and rebuild a brighter future. From as little as £7, you can help us provide water purification kits, get food supplies to families newly displaced and provide education and a safety net for children like Fatima.

Learn more about refugees