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"We Have to Survive"

Just like many Syrian families escaping the violence in Syria, Noor (36 years old) and her family arrived to Lebanon one year and two months ago as she precisely puts it, and sought refuge in the Southern parts of Lebanon.

Upon arrival, Noor thought it would be a matter of few weeks before they return back to their home in Dera’a. So they settled with relatives for few weeks in a house shared by three families. 

Noor has five children: a 12 years-old boy, 2 years-old twin boys, a 3 years-old girl and another girl, Nada, aged 13. Noor’s husband suffers a physical disability and he is unable to walk. 

When the displacement period started to lengthen, and hopes for return started to diminish, Noor and her husband had no savings anymore, and they had to seek another shelter option. Luckily, they managed to find an alternative shelter within the Social Development Center of Kofr Seer who helped them find a place shared by another 5 families. 

However, hard decisions for Noor and her husband were yet to be made. The 12 years old boy had become the breadwinner for the family. He was no longer receiving education and was working at a carpenter’s shop for 12 hours instead, to support the family. Those little resources did not dissipate the parents’ fear of not being able to provide proper care for all children. This is how it was decided that the 13 years-old girl should marry the cousin of her mother. Noor says: “it was not an easy decision to make, but I do not want my daughter to live as I am living. I don’t want this life for her. It is better for her to be with a man who can provide for her.” 

13 year old Nada got pregnant on her first year of marriage and now has a baby who is one week old. According to Noor, her daughter is happy and did not refuse the marriage. She wishes she did not have to marry her at such young age, and continue her education, but she says: “life is not in our favor those days and we have to survive.”

Early marriage rates grow in times of crisis. The International Rescue Committee’s assessment conducted in August 2012 identified early marriage and survival sex as other forms of violence experienced by women and girls since arriving in Lebanon. As a response, UNFPA focuses on enabling adolescents and young people to make informed and sound decisions through youth to youth awareness raising sessions on early marriage as well as HIV/AIDS prevention, sexually transmitted infections prevention, GBV, early marriage, and stress management in humanitarian settings. Since the onset of the crisis, a total of 32 awareness sessions were conducted and 1274 young Lebanese, Syrians, Palestinian and Iraqis reached.

PS: “This photo does not relate to the actual story for security and privacy purposes”