British actor Orlando Bloom visits Syrian refugees in Jordan
Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have fled across the border to Jordan due to the Syrian conflict. (photo courtesy: unicef.ca)
UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Orlando Bloom wrapped up a visit this week to Jordan, where he met with children from Syria and their families whose lives have been devastated by the conflict — now in its fourth year.
“These children have witnessed more extreme violence than any child should,” said Bloom after a visit to the Zaatari Refugee Camp near the Syrian border, some 90km northeast of Amman.
“What is most terrifying is that they become a lost generation. Without urgently needed education, protection and psychological support their pain and bitterness will turn into aggression years from now.”
The British actor arrived in Jordan earlier this month, visiting a Syrian family in Irbid who fled violence in Aleppo two years ago, according to a UNICEF statement issued this week.
Like “so many other families who have come to Jordan or neighbouring countries, what little savings they had are gone”, and life is becoming increasingly difficult, the agency said.
“These are families that had lives most of us can relate to. Parents had jobs. Kids went to school and got to play. This war obliterated their lives and uprooted them from their homes and now they are living in precarious situations with little or no hope for their futures,” said Bloom.
“They don’t want to live like refugees, with no dignity or respect. They just want their lives back and a future for their children,” the statement quoted him as saying.
In Zaatari, Bloom visited a UNICEF-supported school that “lends the children a sense of normalcy to lives that are far from normal”.
With a population of over 100,000 women, children and men, Zaatari is one of the largest refugee camps in the world.
UNICEF and partners are providing “life-saving support through vaccinations, medicines, education, clean water and safe areas for children to play”, the statement said.
But with needs far outpacing resources, UNICEF is urgently seeking additional funding to address what has become the world’s largest humanitarian crisis.
Since the conflict in Syria erupted three years ago, a total of some 5.6 million children have been severely affected, the UN agency said.
“UNICEF has warned that the future for these children inside Syria and living as refugees in neighbouring countries hangs in the balance as violence, the collapse of health and education services, severe psychological distress and the worsening economic impact on families combine to devastate a generation,” the statement said.
In host countries throughout the region, 1.3 million Syrian children are now living as refugees. Host communities are often overwhelmed and there is limited access to clean water, nutrition or learning opportunities.
Bloom, well known for roles in blockbuster films such as “The Lord of the Rings” and “Pirates of the Caribbean”, became a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador in October 2009.
Prior to his appointment, Bloom visited UNICEF-supported schools in Nepal to help advocate for the rights of children, including access to quality education and clean water.
In 2012, the actor met with children and youths in Cape Town, South Africa, to learn more about their lives and the importance of having safe areas for children to play and participate in recreational activities after school.
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