A CHARITY worker from Penarth has met refugees in Lebanon as the Syrian conflict enters its ninth year.

Elouise Hobbs, a 24-year-old who studied English Literature at Cardiff University and works with charity CAFOD, met with refugees supported by the EU MADAD Trust fund.

The UN estimates that the conflict to date has killed over 400,000 people and left 6.1 million people homeless within Syria, with a further five and a half million fleeing to neighbouring countries.

Ms Hobbs said: “Lebanon is a small country, about half the size of Wales, but they host more than one and a half million refugees – causing tension in communities.

“I met one young woman called Aya who was the same age as me. I was amazed at her resilience despite the trauma she had faced and struck by how different our lives are. She had come to Lebanon to spend the summer, but it was not safe to go back home because of the war.

“That was seven years ago.

“There were many parallels between us – we are both young women with dreams and aspirations.

“Unlike me, Aya doesn’t have a safety net of knowing which direction her life will take or what her future holds.

“There are thousands more like this. About half the refugees are young people living in limbo – they have few opportunities and little hope of returning home soon.

“Aya is part of a really important project, called ‘Youth Resolve’, bringing Lebanese and Syrian young people together. Through this, she’s been able to build bridges in her community.

“She was very lucky as she was able to continue her studies but there are many young women like Aya whose lives were placed on pause due to the conflict.

“And although it may seem like the Syrian war is nearly over, there is still a long road ahead for the millions of refugees who do not have a permanent place to call home.”

Find out more about CAFOD’s work in the region at: cafod.org.uk/syriacrisis