From a state of shock to agency in liminality, Syrians and their children on the move

Josepha Wessels

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapterResearchpeer-review


Less than 10% of the estimated total of 11 million Syrians who fled their homes, have actually reached Europe; around 4.8 million Syrian refugees live in neighbouring countries and over 6.6 million are internally displaced people (IDP) within Syria (Migration Policy Centre, 2016). In 2014, the author travelled back to northern Syria, where she conducted anthropological fieldwork in the past between 1997 and 2002, and visited the IDP camps of Atmeh and Qah. This chapter maps out the situation of Syrian children in these IDP camps, compared to trajectories of Syrian refugee children to Europe. Located in so-called “hard-to-reach-areas”, IDP camps are camps of liminality by their locality and marginalisation, “betwixt and between” (Turner, 1969). The IDP camps are not supposed to be permanent, yet all signs are present they will grow into permanent settlements as observed with satellite imagery. Due to the lack of international aid, children in these camps struggle with a severe lack of basic needs supply and education. By comparing the trajectories of Syrian children in Europe with those living inside IDP camps, the author considers the nexus between agency, locality, liminality, mobility and trajectories. The empirical material is based on personal fieldvisits to IDP camps, satellite imagery and interviews with Syrians in Syria, Turkey and the Netherlands.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSyrian refugee children in Europe and the Middle East
Subtitle of host publicationIntegrating the exiled:
EditorsMichele Pace, Somdeep Sen
Place of PublicationUK
ISBN (Print)9780815347347
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Publication series

NameRoutledge Studies in Middle Eastern Society

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Social Sciences Interdisciplinary

Free keywords

  • Refugees
  • Syria
  • Denmark
  • Children
  • IDPs
  • Camps
  • liminality


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