chapter  5
From a state of shock to agency in liminality
Syrians and their children on the move
ByJosepha Ivanka Wessels
Pages 13

Less than 10% of the estimated total of 11 million Syrians who fled their homes, reached Europe; around 4.8 million Syrian refugees live in neighbouring countries, and over 6.6 million are internally displaced people (IDP) within Syria (Migration Policy Centre 2016). In 2014, the author travelled back to northern Syria, where she conducted anthropological fieldwork in the past between 1997 and 2002, and visited the IDP camps of Atmeh and Qah. This chapter maps out the situation of Syrian children in these IDP camps, compared to trajectories of Syrian refugee children to Europe. Located in so-called “hard-to-reach-areas”, IDP camps are camps of liminality by their locality and marginalization, “betwixt and between” (Turner 1969). The IDP camps are not supposed to be permanent, yet all signs are present they will grow into permanent settlements as observed with satellite imagery. By comparing the trajectories of Syrian children in Europe with those living inside IDP camps, the author considers the nexus between agency, locality, liminality, mobility and trajectories. The empirical material is based on personal field visits to IDP camps, satellite imagery and interviews with Syrians in Syria, Turkey and the Netherlands.