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Jordan

'I Sold My Sister To Save The Family'

A young Syrian widow who lost her husband and four children to the civil war describes a miserable life in a Jordanian refugee camp - and a heartwrenching decision.

A woman at the Zaatari camp for Syrian refugees in Jordan
A woman at the Zaatari camp for Syrian refugees in Jordan
Annabell Van den Berghe

ZAATARI CAMP — Amani just turned 22. Two months ago she fled from the civil war in Syria and left her house in the capital of Damascus. After a dangerous nightlong trip, she arrived at Zaatari, the refugee camp just over the border in Jordan, where her parents and two sisters had already lived for more than a year. In Damascus she lived with her husband and five children, in an apartment in the old city center. Like many other Syrian girls, she got married when she was still a child. She had just turned 15 when she found the man of her dreams and decided to wed.

“In Syria, things are different,” Amani says. “Girls get married very early. It is a habit and a tradition. But it doesn’t mean we are all married off to strangers. I got to choose my husband and he got to choose me. We could never be more happy than when we were together.”

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In The News

War In Ukraine, Day 112: Russians Try To Repeat Mariupol Playbook In Severodonetsk

Russians are besieging Severodonetsk, the eastern Ukrainian city, and urging troops there to surrender as they offer a shaky evacuation corridor for civilians. The siege and symbolism recalls the siege of Mariupol, which didn't end well for Ukrainians.

A Russian earlier this week at the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, which is now occupied by Moscow's forces

Vladimir Gerdo/TASS via ZUMA
Irene Caselli, Shaun Lavelle, Anna Akage and Emma Albright

In a two-sided move that eerily recalls the tragic events in the southern port city of Mariupol, Russia has urged Ukrainian troops to surrender in Severodonetsk, the eastern Ukrainian city where fighting is raging, while at the same time pledging to spend the day evacuating civilians.

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Severodonetsk, in Luhansk region, has assumed a symbolic weight in the war as Russia focused on trying to win over control of Donbas and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky repeating that it is a “decisive” battleground. Russian troops have encircled the city over the past few weeks, trying to take it back from Ukrainian forces that had taken control in 2014 from pro-Russian separatists.

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