The Price of Refuge
One million refugees have fled Syria's bloody conflict. But what awaits them across the border? This shocking report reveals the violence and sexual abuse endured by the women running from the bloodshed.
"He'd want to touch you, grab you, kiss you before he'd give you the box", Hoda says, describing how those distributing Red Cross refugee aid in Lebanon seek sexual favours from her in return. The men are influential, so she feels that if she complains or reports the abuse she'll be denied further aid. In fact women without male protection are so vulnerable that many jump into quick marriages out of fear. Khadidja is only 15, but with her father imprisoned in Syria and her brother joining the uprising, she and her family felt they had no choice but to accept an offer of marriage. The alternative is much worse. "One of them hit me with the butt of his gun. I came to as I was being raped", Aya says as she recounts the brutal assault she suffered in Syria. Afterwards she fled to Lebanon, but even here she's unable to escape abuse. The UN is doing its best to respond to allegations, but as the problem escalates the UN representative for Lebanon, Ninette Kelly, says despairingly, "we're not a law enforcement agency".