In Syria, 13.5 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance, and an estimated 6.3 million have been forced to flee to a different part of the country, often more than once. Since the start of 2017, an intensification in the conflict has complicated humanitarian access to large numbers of hard-to-reach Syrians. CARE and other humanitarian actors continually modify our response strategy as needed in view of the higher risk. We continue to work with a network of local partners that have established relationships with communities, helping us serve affected populations despite the security and logistical challenges. As we plan for both immediate assistance and longer-term recovery, our objective is to build the capacity of our partners and help them toward self-sufficiency as they meet the needs of their communities in the future.
"The First Thing I’ll Do is Rebuild"
Omar has always been a high achiever, a serious student and a good climber. At the age of 2, his parents found him on top of a ladder. As he grew older, he would climb trees to avoid having his hair cut. Family members chuckle as they remember his precocious youth.
Those days seem eons ago now. Omar is only 11, but as the Syria conflict enters its seventh year, he and his siblings have seen a lifetime of war. The family remembers distinctly the day they had to flee their home.
“We were under siege and shelling,” Omar’s father, Yassin, says. “My father had been shot in the knee by a sniper. They amputated the leg, but he died two weeks later from infection.” Yassin’s sister-in-law, too, was shot in the stomach and died two days later.
“We were so afraid, terrified by the sounds of bombing, the planes overhead, and the snipers,” Yassin says. He takes a moment to breathe.
Then our home was raided by the military, twice. They forced their way in. The last time, our daughter, Renad, was awake. She was petrified.” That was the night the parents knew they must go. They risked sniper fire escaping the town, but felt they had no choice. Four years later, the sight of a uniformed man still terrifies their 9-year-old daughter.
While they are safe from war today, the family continues to face many challenges as refugees in Jordan. Living expenses, medical expenses and ever-increasing debt are among their greatest concerns. While CARE provided them with assistance this winter, the family receives very little aid.
“We haven’t paid our rent in months,” Yassin says. “We owe the landlord a lot of money.”
Mold and mildew cover the walls and ceilings of their small apartment in Amman. The mother, Aseah, describes scrubbing the walls frequently, but the mold continues to creep back. The fungus has a troubling impact on Omar’s asthma, which the parents constantly watch to ensure he is medicated. This costs money.
Some families, feeling the pressure of increasing debt, send their boys to work in the streets, selling tissue or snacks.
“Not Omar, not my children,” says Yassin, who acknowledges the additional debt they must carry since losing their home and livelihood in Syria.
“I don’t agree with children having to work,” the father says. “A child’s education is the most important thing. I will not allow what happened to me happen to them.” The father of four completed his ninth-grade studies and went immediately to work. Today, however, Yassin believes that with education comes opportunity. Back home, he worked in a supermarket and then in construction, but in Jordan he has not been able to find steady work, as Syrians must acquire a work permit, which can be complicated, with multiple restrictions.
Focusing on their children, and their hope for the future, the parents praise Omar. He is excellent in math, a star student, and explains to other children that they should listen to their teachers and try not to be naughty.
“In the future, I’d like to be a construction engineer,” the boy adds confidently. His proud parents are beaming. “The first thing I’ll do is rebuild our house in Syria. And then I’m going to visit my kindergarten teacher, Amouna.”
The Syrian crisis – the world’s worst humanitarian emergency in many decades – shows no signs of abating. CARE remains committed to do our best to meet the overwhelming needs of people displaced within Syria and beyond its borders. Thanks to donors like you, we already have reached almost 3 million people with lifesaving assistance. As the situation remains fluid and CARE needs to respond quickly to rapidly emerging needs, flexible sources of funding like the Syrian Crisis Humanitarian Fund are more important than ever. On behalf of the millions of people we are working to help, we thank you for your generous support.
CARE assists evacuees from Aleppo.
A Jordanian volunteer teaches computer skills.
Omar with his father and brothers