Skye photographer documents Syrian refugee crisis

A mum-of-two and photographer from the Isle of Skye has returned from an emotional visit to the Middle East where she has worked with refugees from the Syria crisis.

Young Syrian refugee behind camp fence

Rosie Woodhouse, a keen blogger from Breakish, visited a huge refugee camp in Jordan, near the Syrian border, to document the plight of families who have fled the conflict.

The Syria Crisis, which has claimed the lives of millions, will enter its sixth year in mid-March.

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The charity World Vision is supporting refugees inside the country, and those who have fled to neighbouring countries including Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq and Turkey – and has now extended its work in Europe.

Rosie Woodhouse

Rosie, 49, is working with the charity. She said: “As a mum of two, I can’t possibly imagine what these families are going through having sought refuge in Jordan from Syria.

“As a photographer, I’m often inspired and deeply moved by the work of journalists and photojournalists.

“In particular, the death of Marie Colvin in Homs four years ago spoke to me of the spiralling escalation of the situation in Syria.”

She added: “Jordan is this enormously hospitable country that is at the heart of and surrounded by so much war and devastation.

Syrian refugees

“I spoke refugees in Jordan’s Azraq refugee camp, as well as surrounding cities.

“Having followed the Syrian conflict closely from its early days, I have watched it with horror and helplessness.

“Their past was written out of history and their future is as uncertain as gossamer. It’s hard to believe that some of these families have been there since the beginning of the crisis five years ago.”

She said: “There is no adequate way to describe the feeling when you arrive at a refugee camp.

Syrian refugees

You may think you have seen it on TV, read about it in the press and know what to expect.

“Believe me, you don’t. There can be no better way to suddenly and overwhelmingly visualise and understand the mass migration that is currently under way. Azraq is a small camp.

“It houses, at present, only around 7% of those displaced from Syria alone, yet the tightly packed shelters stretch from horizon to horizon.

“There is a population far in excess of my native Isle of Skye packed into an area that I can see from my living room window.

Rosie Woodhouse

“The camp is neat and laid out in “villages”. We’ve been told that there is a hospital at the camp and we stop outside briefly before going to see one of the most surprising and wonderful aspects of camp life.

“World Vision has built two artifical pitches in the desert and with the help of coaches from the Premier League 40 volunteer coaches have been trained and a keenly contested league established.

“As we drive up to the first pitch we can see that a match is under way. The pitches are in constant use – particularly in this week off school.

“It was an inspired project – it has clearly brought so much to so many in the camp.”

She continued: “As we travel between the villages in the camp to meet another family

“I reflect that it is neat, it is organised, it is somewhat soul-less.

Syrian refugees

The only splashes of colour come from the washing strung out between the shelters.And the mosque.

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To mark the five-year milestone since the start of the Syria Crisis anniversary, World Vision UK has launched the Barefoot and Coatless Campaign.

This week, the children’s charity asked people to go without their coat or spend the day in flip flops for one day to fundraise for a Syrian child to receive one.

Rosie, who has been supporting World Vision UK for more than two decades by sponsoring children, added: “I’m excited to support the Barefoot and Coatless campaign because every year, winter hits especially hard for millions of Syrian refugees living in makeshift shelters and refugee camps across the Middle East.

“I want to offer a glimpse into this community in Jordan, and a voice to some of those who have lost so much.”

World Vision, a Christian organisation, is the world’s largest international children’s charity.

Its teams are working in the world’s hardest places, with continued presence in almost 100 countries.

The Syrian crisis is the largest single source of refugee and displaced people in the world.

Million of families have been disrupted. Two out of every five Syrian refugees are children under the age of 11, few of whom will ever have gone to school.

Syrian refugees