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Press Centre (4/2017)

'This is our Safe Space': Syrian children find a haven where they play, learn and cope

All photos: © UNICEF Turkey/2016/Rich
By Donatella Lorch / UNICEF

Syrian refugee children gather in front of Al Farah Child and Family Support Centre (CFSC) in Gaziantep, Turkey.
In 2016, UNICEF established this CFSC together with its partner Association for Solidarity with Asylum-Seekers and Migrants (ASAM) and with the financial support of the European Union Regional Trust Fund. It welcomes about 2,100 refugee children and parents a month.

It’s time for art class. The Al Farah Centre in Gaziantep is both a safe haven and a place to learn and play. The centre serves as a “one stop shop” for multi-disciplinary child-centered activities led by professionals as well as social workers. These include psychosocial support, legal counseling for at-risk children, nutritional services and community awareness raising.

Art class is great place to make friends. In a world that for refugees is far from normal, art is but one of the activities and services that the Al Farah Centre in Gaziantep provides to refugee youth and their families to help them manage everyday stresses. 

Syrian refugee children with hearing impairment receive sign language lessons at the Al Farah Centre in Gaziantep. In the past year, over 18,000 Syrian and other refugees and migrants have accessed the Al Farah’s services, including more than 12,000 children.

A Syrian refugee girl with hearing impairment experiments as she learns how to sign the word for “love” at the Al Farah Centre in Gaziantep. There are six Child and Family Support Centres across Turkey. Together with a second center in Gaziantep the others are in Ankara, Adana, Izmir and Istanbul.

Barah, 4, lost her hearing during bombings near her home in Aleppo, Syria. “I realized that her hearing was getting worse and worse,” explained her father Abdullah, 40, holding his daughter at the Al Farah Centre in Gaziantep. “She was just a baby, one year old at the time. Barah’s hearing impairment is not the result of just one big explosion but the accumulation of constant day and night bombing.”

“The help Al Farah has given my daughter is wonderful,” Abdullah said. Barah has now two hearing aids supplied by the center. She also has undergone surgery and can hear a little.

These young Syrian refugee children come to the Al Farah Centre in Gaziantep, Turkey to participate in the centre’s child friendly activities.

For this Syrian refugee, making a mask is just half the fun. For a few hours at the Al Farah Centre, he and his friends become super heroes. Laughing and playing is an essential part of healing the wounds of war. 
UNICEF Turkey Country Office, Yukarı Dikmen Mah. Alexsander Dubçek Cd. 7/106, 06450 Çankaya/Ankara. Telephone: +90 312 454 1000 Fax: +90 312 496 1461 E-mail: ankara@unicef.org