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Syrian refugees forced to let Lebanese landlord marry their 14-year-old daughter because they cannot afford the rent

A 14-year-old girl who escaped the bloody fighting in Syria is being forced to marry a 44-year-old stranger in exchange for her family’s safe refuge across the border.

Hanifa Amar’s parents say they can no longer afford the $250 (£150) monthly rent at a house they fled to in neighbouring Lebanon. The landlord has agreed to let them stay, but only if Hanifa becomes his second wife.Wiping away tears, Hanifa told Al Jazeera: ‘My whole life is destroyed. I don’t want to marry him, but if I do my family can stay in this house.’

The teenager had hoped to marry her 22-year-old cousin, but he died fighting in Syria last year. Instead, she now has to take desperate measures to help her family survive after they were threatened with eviction. Her mother, Mysa, says they cannot risk moving into a tent because her husband suffers from heart problems and she fears her asthmatic son could die in the bitter cold.

Her other son, who is 12, earns the little money they have by helping a mechanic, but this is barely enough to pay for food. Mrs Amar said: ‘No mother wants to hurt her child, but we have no choice.’

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