Globalist launches series about youth caught in Middle East conflict

The Seattle Globalist is launching a new reporting series about young Syrians living on the borders of war in their region.

More than nine million Syrians have been forced from their homes since the conflict broke out in 2011. Two and a half million of them have fled to Jordan and other neighboring countries.

And this conflict is on the doorstep of people right here in the Pacific Northwest, too. Syrians whose families moved to Washington years ago have watched the fighting unfold inside Syria from 6,000 miles away. 

“On the Borders of War” will look at how online activists are influencing the conflict from afar, and what’s in store for Washington state as more refugees are forced to find permanent resettlement.

(Photo by Alisa Reznick)
(Photo by Alisa Reznick)

Over the last few months, I’ve been interviewing young people in the Northwest who’ve followed the conflict via new reports, YouTube videos and desperate calls to people still inside the country.

It’s hard to imagine now, but Syria looked a lot different in 2011.

Back then, 29-year-old Matilda (who asked that her name be changed to avoid retaliation from the Assad regime) and her friends were staging peaceful protests in front of embassies and starting conversations on social media — all the tools young revolutionaries in Libya and Egypt had used before them.

But soon, her friends were disappearing and getting arrested for their activism. Matilda started looking for a way out. When friends in Jordan offered to put her up, she took the chance. 

I lived in Amman, Jordan for three months last summer, where I worked for local English publication, the Jordan Times.

While I was there, I met young people like Matilda who were just out of college when the conflict broke out. They’d been forced to leave their homes, their families, and their plans behind.

In three years, they’ve gone from hopeful young activists in Syria to refugees in Jordan.

What I’ve found most interesting about the Syrians I’ve met is their ability to find new avenues for their activism. They keep searching for solutions from afar — both in Jordan, and here in the Northwest.

(Photo by Alisa Reznick)
(Photo by Alisa Reznick)

With your Kickstarter contributions, I’ll head to the tumultuous region to tell the stories of young Syrians as they navigate starting over in a foreign land, come to grips with a peaceful revolution turned intractable civil war — and decide what to do next.

To learn more about the Kickstarter and get involved, click here.

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