Ahmed’s hands hovered over the tea cups and he paused, sucking in his breath. When he spoke, it was barely above a whisper. “That’s when I surrendered myself,” he said. “to this certainty: today, I am going to die.”
Ahmed, 32, is a Syrian refugee living in northern Lebanon with his family. Just a few years ago, he was working at a prominent job and living in his own home with his wife and two children, busy, successful and satisfied.
The path to a sharp reversal in his fortunes is a story that is unique, dramatic and heartrending. Yet the themes are echoed by hundreds of thousands of other Syrian refugees. The ongoing civil war means four million people — the greatest population exodus since World War II — are seeking refuge outside of Syria’s borders, while another seven million are displaced internally. Many, forced from middle-class lives, are now trying to support their families on too-meager aid.