Thursday August 28, 2014

Voices from Syria

Over 3 years of unrest have created the worst humanitarian crisis in the modern history of the Middle East region. Over 11.7 million Syrians are in need for humanitarian aid, around 4 million people have been internally displaced, and more than 2.8 million refugees have fled to neighbouring countries. We share stories from some Syrians we were able to reach during Ramadan:

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Syria’s unrelenting conflict has cost Um Eyad one daughter and four sons. We met her and her husband, who are both in their 70s, in Hibat Allah camp, near the border with Turkey.

“We arrived in the camp a month ago,” Um Eyad told us, “after we lost four sons and a daughter in the fighting that occurred in our village, Khan Shaikhoun. I could not do anything. My son was sitting at home, his house was bombed and he died. My grandson was injured. My neighbour lost three of his sons.

“We escaped the village during intensive shelling and bombing. We risked death trying to reach a safe place.”

Most of the people who lived in their village have fled, with many – like Um Eyad – facing the hardships of life in one of the many camps for displaced people scattered across Syria. It is particularly difficult for this family, which includes four disabled children who require regular medical care.

 “I would like to go back as there is no electricity here, no clean water, and not enough shelter, food, mattresses and blankets. Unfortunately, the violence continues.”

Islamic Relief provided Um Eyad with essential items such as blankets, mattresses and food parcels – offering some relief from the worry of meeting the basic needs of her family. However, Um Eyad knows they all face an uncertain future.

“We used to live a normal life, working our land to make a living. Our house is destroyed and we lost all of our belongings. I’ve lost everything. There is no-one to follow and nowhere to go after what happened to us. May God grant me patience and strength.”

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Father-of-five Abu Mahmoud and his family have lost everything in Syria’s brutal conflict.

Originally from Hama, Abu Mahmoud, 38, told us they had a good life before the violence began. Then, his home was destroyed, and some of his friends and family lost their lives in the fighting.

We used to have a normal life but now we miss everything including shelter, safety, water, and education,” he told us as we distributed Ramadan foodpacks in the camp in which the family now live.

Having fled to Turkey, Abu Mahmoud and his family now face an uncertain future as refugees.

“Living in the camp is very difficult for us. Access to food and health services is very difficult, despite the support of charitable organisations.

“We changed camps many times because of over-crowding. We cannot find a good place for our children to grow up in a healthy and safe environment. The scarcity of income and health services has put our lives into limbo. The whole generation is destroyed.’’

Islamic Relief provided Abu Mahmoud with a family food parcel designed to provide relief from hunger during the holy month of Ramadan. The package included rice, bulgar, lentils, flour, tuna and tomatoes as well as olives, cooking oil, ghee, sugar and jam.

“The children are pleased we have food for the holy month. My wife is also happy with this parcel and she keeps giving dua (praying) for those that have helped us. What matters now is the sustainability of the food parcels and assistance.”

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Um Mohamed, 63, has been living with her seven orphaned grandchildren in a camp in Mount Lebanon since 2013.

Before the conflict, Um Mohamed lived in safety in Syria. But then violence broke out and her husband was kidnapped. She still does not know what happened to him.

When a bomb exploded near their home in Aleppo, her two sons went to help get people out of the damaged building. A second explosion killed one of her sons and severely injured the other. Her pregnant daughter was also killed by a bomb. Um Mohamed gathered her five grandsons, now orphaned, and brought them to Lebanon.

When they arrived in the country, Um Mohamed rented a house and started selling tissues in the street to earn money for rent and food. The little she earned was not enough to make ends meet, so after a few months she was forced to take her family to the camp. They have lived there ever since.

With Um Mohamed unable to work to provide for her family, she relies on support from Islamic Relief. She receives food and other items, and she also has a regular allowance for one of her grandsons through our orphan sponsorship scheme.

Um Mohamed’s wish is to see her grandsons go back to school. She said: “God has given me the strength to support my grandsons, and I will be happy if I could help other orphans wherever they are.”

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As the crisis in Syria deepens, more and more families are fleeing their homes and seeking sanctity in neighbouring countries. Approximately 36% of Syrian refugees are under the age of 12, growing up in makeshift accommodation. Islamic Relief is continuing the emergency relief response amid the insecurity, with support for Syrians inside Syria as well as for those that have fled to neighbouring countries.

Please donate today to support the people of Syria.

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