Supporting the newly displaced people in SyriaPublished: Aug 27, 2020 Reading time: 5 minutes
Having a proper tent positively affects each member of the family. Adults, children and elders see how their suffering decreases by being under a safe ceiling. Or putting it in another way: Not having it reduces the chances of surviving with dignity the hardships of war for men and women in Syria.
“I have not been to or seen my home in the village for nine years and I am afraid I will never be able to go there,” Hasan, tells us from rural Idlib province, in northern Syria. "We are just hearing rumours that we will [be able to] return there, yet on the contrary we are always forced to keep moving far north to other camps.”
This man, 41 years old, is restless since long ago. He has eight children from ages 3-17. In order to financially sustain his family, he used to work as a daily worker in Lebanon “I did whatever work was available whether in farming or in construction. I used to send my family the money they needed and I went to see them every few months.” Last year, he decided to return to Syria for good, as it was getting too expensive for him to pay his sponsor -up to 700 $ a year. After saving money to make his way back home, and risking arrest, he managed to reunite with his family in a camp where they moved to after fleeing attacks.
“When I returned, my family and parents had already escaped our village because of airstrikes and shelling. They had moved many times,” Hasan explains. With every move, the family lost savings, chances for decent enough livelihoods, and goods to use wherever they had to set next. His raw testimony says it all: “We stayed in Saraqeb [town] for a few months until there was a new offensive in the area. The city was hit with rockets and airstrikes. We could not stay there anymore. We escaped at midnight in the very cold winter. My brother transported our tents and belongings in a truck while we walked, because warplanes were targeting many vehicles in the area. We walked almost ten kilometres until we reached a safe area. The camp was so crowded that we settled outside, in the surroundings. We had to pay more than a million Syrian pounds to the land owner so that we could erect the tent. I am still highly indebted now as my family already borrowed 300 $ two years ago to manufacture a tent for the big family as my parents and sister were living with us. Although it was a big tent, it was very crowded, we were 13 sharing it, and it had to serve as a kitchen too.”
People in Need, with funds from the Czech people through an SOS appeal last March, provided Hasan and his family with a tent, so that they could have a good quality one and additional space. “We placed it next to my parents’ so that we can help one another. Now I feel I have more privacy and we can have some extra space for living and cooking.”
Firas is Ahmed’s son. He is 14 and struggles to remember when he was not on the move: “We left our home when I was in the sixth grade and have not been able to join school since then because we have moved several times.” An airstrike caused and injury to his left eye. It hit 50 metres away from their original house in Sinjar town. The several surgeries he needed cost the family a great amount of money, and unfortunately, he still can’t see well sometimes. As there is no school nor informal education support in the camp he is in now, he just hangs around with friends and relatives. He told us he is happy to have some extra room in the family’s new tent, while staying close to his grandparents and cousins, to whom he is very much attached.
Firas’ mom, Fatima, is grateful to now have “at least some space for ourselves”. “We also received a kitchen kit that has some tools including cups, a frying pan and plates. And we also received another bag with two carpets, mats, blankets and gallons for water.” Had they not received this support, they would just be deprived from these basic household items. Thanks to the contribution of PIN donors, 100 families were supported with a tent, kitchen kit and non-food items kit containing basics like soap, apart from a masks project that helped produce and distribute over 322,000 masks to people in northern Syria to protect them from COVID-19.
This family has gone through a lot and at least now they will have a safe shelter. For them, the hardest thing to cope now with is the lack of psychological shelter to feel protected from such uncertainties, after all they have been through and seeing that the Idlib region is bounded in a nutshell that shrinks more and more every day. “I am afraid there could be a new offensive and we might need to move again and again,” being forever ‘recently displaced people', Ahmed admits.