Liam Neeson’s visit to Za’atari this past month was spent visiting displaced Syrian children affected by the refugee crisis that is nearing its sixth year. Neeson, actor and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador is a known advocate for fighting global poverty. His recent trip has cast a spotlight on how deeply children have been affected by the refugee crisis and in Za’atari — the largest refugee camp currently sheltering close to 80,000 people.
The majority of Liam Neeson’s visit to Za’atari was spent with children at the public school and Makani center. The Makani center means ‘my space’ in Arabic and has served as a safe haven for providing “learning and psychosocial support” to the youth community.
On his second day spent at the public school, Neeson learned more about the efforts to end the refugee violence through the school’s national campaign that works to reduce the violence specifically against children. As the refugee crisis nears its sixth year, over eight and a half million children have been displaced and affected by the aftermath.
Split schools such as the one Neeson visited in Za’atari are established in order to accommodate a large number of children needing care. Since the refugee crisis, the Syrian people have experienced “violence, the collapse of the health and education services, severe psychological distress and… worsening economic impact” that will continue to affect future generations.
Despite the circumstances, the displaced children from the refugee crisis have found a community within Za’atari. Where there once was animosity, there is now support and new-found relationships that resemble a familial connection.
Reflecting on his time spent in Za’atari, Neeson felt admiration for the resilience amongst the Syrian people, especially the ambition the children have for their futures. Mathematician, engineer, police officer and teacher were some of the future professions the children have hoped for. Neeson says seeing them “empowered by education and the focus in their eyes was incredibly humble and very moving.”
– Amy Williams