Ruqaya helps reunite children in Hasakeh with their families

Case managers: everyday heroes

Madlin Chako and Rasha Alsabbagh
Woman sitting next to child
UNICEF/Syria/2021/Delil Souleiman
30 May 2022

February 2022, Hasakeh, northeast Syria – “No words can describe my happiness when I see a child run into their parents’ arms,” Ruqaya says smiling. Together with her team, she has successfully reunified more than 75 children with their caregivers.

“We put in place a plan to trace the family members of each child. Things take time sometimes, but the team and I stay motivated as long as there is progress. It means that the distance between the child and his or her caregivers is getting shorter,” she adds.

A woman
UNICEF/Syria/2021/Delil Souleiman
Ruqaya, a supervisor of case managers with a UNICEF -supported partner, during an interview in Hasakeh, northeast Syria, on 20 December 2021.

Ruqaya supervises a team of 38 case managers. They work with a UNICEF -supported partner in Hasakeh, northeast Syria, to connect children with essential services and to ultimately reunite them with their families and caregivers. It includes work in camps where internally displaced persons have taken shelter from violence. “Working with separated and unaccompanied children is not easy,” Ruqaya says.

The case management process matches the needs of each child with the available services. It includes connecting children with various social and legal services. The process is often lengthy, and it can last for months.

Woman with child next to her
UNICEF/Syria/2021/Delil Souleiman
Ruqaya, with three-year-old Alaa, one of the children she helped to reunite with his family in Hasakeh, northeast Syria, on 20 December 2021.

During the long years of conflict in Syria, Ruqaya and her colleagues have worked in extremely challenging situations. At times the job has taken a toll on Ruqaya. “During my first year on the job, I’d think about work even at home and I’d reflect on interactions with separated children and desperate families,” she explains. Yet, she is determined to continue the work.

“Children have the right to live in a safe environment, to grow up with their families and among their siblings,” reiterates Ruqaya. She believes case management is life changing support rather than merely a service provided.

Ruqaya and her colleagues have supported countless numbers of Syrian children who have lost track of their parents due to the conflict. They are the hidden everyday heroes.

“Children have the right to live in a safe environment, to grow up with their families and among their siblings,”

Ruqaya, a supervisor of case managers with a UNICEF -supported partner

In 2021, UNICEF reached over 450 protection workers and community volunteers in Hasakeh, northeast Syria, with training on various child protection subjects, including on child protection foundations, case management, psychosocial support, explosive ordnance risk education, gender-based violence, and protection from sexual exploitation and abuse. UNICEF -trained case managers supported 5,000 children and adult survivors of gender-based violence and provided support through case management. Also, over 38,000 children were provided with recreational activities as well as individual and group counselling and nearly 5,000 caregivers with guidance on parental care. More than 350,000 children and caregivers benefitted from awareness raising on the prevention from family separation and risks of unexploded ordnance as well as protection from sexual exploitation and abuse. The activities were funded by the Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) through the KFW Development Bank.