A mother, displaced in northwest Syria: “We can never go back home”

 Syria
 Emergency ResponseFood Security,
 2nd Oct 2019

The latest escalation in hostilities in northwest Syria is now in its fourth month. Hundreds of civilians have been killed or injured due to airstrikes and shelling, while some 630,000 displacements have taken place between the beginning of May and the end of August, as people flee their homes to escape war. Having nowhere else to go, the majority of displaced families have been forced to move to areas close to the Turkish border and sleep in makeshift tents, in camps that emerged on agricultural land. These densely-populated areas are now the only place people can escape the violence in Idlib.

What does this mean for a woman and a mother? How is life in these areas? Let’s read more about it from Amira*.

©Syria Relief

Amira is from a small village in the southern countryside of Idlib. She has two children: a six-year-old girl and a 13-year-old boy. Today, she lives with her children and husband in a camp near the Turkish border. "When the war started in Syria, almost nine years ago, we left our house for the first time and moved to the city of Saraqib in central Idlib. We stayed there only for one month and have been displaced countless times since then. We had to escape every time violence spread to areas where we lived.”

The last time Amira and her family were displaced, was a few months ago, when they decided to leave the village of Kafr Nouran in southwest Aleppo. “We stayed there for several months, but once again, we had to leave because it was not safe anymore. We arrived in this camp, in the north of Idlib a few months ago and have been trying to settle in.”

“My family's situation is very difficult. We depend on humanitarian assistance to survive. Sometimes, my husband and I work for local farmers for a small amount of money, but there is no stability, so we cannot rely on this as an income.”

Amira’s 13-year-old son had to drop out of school due to the family’s multiple movements. Amira is devastated when she speaks about his future.

“I want my children to go to school but there is no hope for this at the moment. The schools that are still open, are very far from the camp. I am very sad. I feel that their future is lost before my eyes and I can do nothing to help.”

At the same time, she describes how difficult life in a makeshift camp is, especially for women and children. “To survive, we rely on humanitarian aid, help from relatives and frequently have to borrow money. Living in the camp deprives us of many essential things, such as food. We can’t find vegetables, meat or chicken. During the rare times that these are available, we usually do not have enough money to buy them. Thank God, we are still alive because we have wheat and rice.”

©Syria Relief

Towards the end of the conversation with Amira, she says that her mental health depends on her few daily activities. “I clean our makeshift tent every day. Then I cook and take care of my children, trying to find creative ways to keep their minds busy. In the evenings, sometimes I meet with other women who are in the same situation and we talk about how we can help each other and develop in the future. The only thing I do not have to worry about for now is access to clean, drinking water. Your team visits the camp every day to provide water.”

©Syria Relief

“I hope to return to my house and live in it again, I miss it so much, but our village is now under the control of the Syrian government and we can never return.”

CARE and its local partner Syria Relief have reached some 19,000 people in northwest Syria with clean drinking water since May 2019, but the needs are still great. Since May 2019, CARE has reached over 250,000 individuals in northwest Syria, with clean drinking water, food rations, a mobile health team, psychosocial support activities, personal hygiene items, cash assistance, shelter rehabilitation and makeshift shelter items, including plastic sheets, mattresses and blankets. As the humanitarian situation continues to deteriorate, CARE and the organizations it partners with in Syria will be scaling up the humanitarian response further and will continue to monitor the situation and work to ensure that the aid response is timely and coordinated.

*Names have been changed to protect the identity of individuals

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