The war in Syria has turned Qutoof into an adult

12-year-old Qutoof has lived half of her life in war. Like many Syrian children, she has become an adult much too early.


Since the war in Syria begun six years ago, around 12 million people have had to flee their home – half of them are children. A young generation has lost much of their childhood.

Though Qoutoof is only 12 years old, she has become the head of her family. Since her mother is not with them and her father is in the army, she is now in charge of her siblings and the household. At a school set up by the Danish Refugee Council she learns English and French and dreams of becoming an eye surgeon.

"The dream of becoming an eye surgeon keeps me going and motivates me to do better," she says.

But her greatest dream is to see Syria return to what it was so she and her family can return home and be united.

“To go home, see my family, and be with them. I actually don’t want anything more than that,” she says with a shy smile.

Many children have lost close relatives and friends. Some have experienced the fighting first hand and some even been caught in one of the countless bombings. Most live a life full of fear and grief.

Both acute and long-term help

Since 2012 the Danish Refugee Council has - as one of very few international organizations – been able to provide emergency aid inside Syria and even had access to some of the most vulnerable areas.

The organization is also heavily present in neighboring countries, where the vast majority of the Syrian refugees are staying. Here, the Danish Refugee Council is ensuring acute and immediate assistance through the distribution of emergency relief and establishment of shelter. Additionally, there is a strong focus on long-term assistance not only focused on survival but on creating a dignified life for displaced people and refugees in the long term.

The Danish Refugee Council, among other things, has established a number of community centers aimed at providing a space for children where they can forget the war for a moment and have a chance to be children. The community centers help the children process the injuries and trauma caused by a life of war. The Danish Refugee Council also helps the parents make an income enabling them to support their families and protect their children.