Hosseini, a former Afghan refugee who visited Jordan last week, spent time in Za’atari and Azraq refugee camps talking to teenagers and young adults about how they are coping with such dramatic changes to their lives. They included students, those living with disability, musicians and artists, many of whom have had their studies interrupted. Some now serve their community through cultural and educational outreach programmes.
“What has struck me is the immense tragedy of their arrested development,” the best-selling author said. “No one is born a refugee, no one is born a war victim, no one wants to live as either of those things. When these young people were forced to flee the country that they love so fervently they were at the peak of their lives, when a young person wants to be productive and carve out a career and a future for themselves.”
Hosseini added that the young people he met “do not want to be a burden, they are trying their very best to maintain the course of their lives the best they can. It is a universal human need to have dignity and feel useful. It is an ordinary human desire that is being put through an extraordinary test.”
The Goodwill Ambassador also said the situation in Syria seemed to have “really unravelled” since he last visited refugees, last year in northern Iraq. “Just talking to people here there is little sense that they have hope of going home anytime soon, little sense that this war is coming to an end.”
During his three-day visit to Jordan last week, Hosseini also met families in urban areas benefitting from UNHCR's Lifeline Appeal – a package of support including helpline advice, home visits and innovative cash assistance that identifies and protects the most vulnerable Syrian refugees living in Jordan and aims to keep refugees from resorting to making high risk survival decisions.
Using iris-scanning biometrics to prevent fraud, the cash assistance programme is the most effective and efficient way of supporting refugees. It also empowers refugees, restores dignity, helps the local economy and improves relationships between the host community and the refugees.
Jordan is host to more than 625,000 refugees, 84 per cent of whom live in urban areas where they struggle to survive.
For videos, photos, stories from Hosseini’s visit to Jordan please go to www.unhcr.org/khaledhosseini.
For more information on the Lifeline appeal please go to www.unhcr.org/lifeline.