Education brings safety and hope for children in emergencies

Education brings safety and hope for children in emergencies  

Education is a powerful mean to break out of the vicious cycle of poverty and instability, writes FCA’s regional direction Ashraf Yacoub.

A decade into the conflict, millions of Syrians inside the country find themselves displaced and unable to access food, shelter, work or essential health services. The Covid-19 pandemic has further exacerbated the already decimated economy, which has severely impacted the ability of households to purchase basic necessities. 

The situation for children across Syria has never been worse. Nearly 90 per cent of children need humanitarian assistance, an estimated 2.45 million children are out of school, and 1.6 million children risk dropping out. 

Education is a powerful mean to break out of the vicious cycle of poverty and instability; it is a way to initiate and sustain recovery and reduce the disastrous impact of conflict.  

As a Finnish organization, we have extensive experience and expertise in education programs. In 2020, we had to adapt to new ways of working, such as providing solutions for remote learning. An initial slowdown of project implementation was an opportunity to focus on school rehabilitation until measures were in place to resume educational activities safely. 

During my visits to Syria, it has been uplifting to see the results of our work. In 2020, Syria programme reached over 35,000 beneficiaries, including 4,900 students and teachers benefitted from the formal and non-formal educational activities that we supported last year. 

When it comes to Syria’s future, I’m most worried about the over-politicization of the conflict, which hampers reconciliation, rebuilding and humanitarian aid. But the resilience of Syrian youth gives me hope. Given the opportunity, they are capable of building a better life for themselves and their communities. 

Ashraf Yacoub  

Regional director, the Middle East 

This text twas originally published in our Annual Report 2020 that came out recently. Would you like to know more about what was done?

Read more:

Amid uncertainty, IDPs in Syria dream of becoming engineers, teachers or car dealers 

Crises may pave the way to a brighter future

Crises may pave the way to a brighter future

As I am writing this, the Covid-19 pandemic is dominating the news and daily politics for the second year running. In fact, this topic has overshadowed other news to such an extent that it is hard to remember what went on in the world before Covid-19 testing, vaccines and coronavirus variants. Climate change, protracted conflicts, swarms of locusts destroying crops – does any of that ring a bell?

The work carried out by Finn Church Aid focuses on providing education, securing livelihoods and building peace. The objective of long-term development cooperation is to help entire communities become stable and self-sufficient.  

We also respond to more urgent needs. After a massive explosion in the port of Lebanon’s capital Beirut in August 2020, we delivered emergency assistance to those affected. When Covid-19 stopped trade and food deliveries at state borders in several parts of the world, we continued to provide emergency food assistance.  

Some of the areas where we promote development cooperation, humanitarian assistance and peace do naturally overlap, just as global crises are inextricably intertwined. Many of our programme countries faced profound challenges even before the Covid-19 pandemic. Changes in climate and protracted conflicts have caused food crises, health crises and displacement of millions of people. 

In South Sudan, the world’s youngest country, devastating floods have left two thirds of the country’s 11 million inhabitants in need of some form of humanitarian assistance as they are suffering from food insecurity and malnutrition. 

Syria also has a disastrous decade of suffering behind it. This conflict-ridden country has spiralled into an economic crisis that, for Syrian people, translates into a shortage of food and lost income opportunities. An entire generation of children has gone to school in emergency conditions. 

Poika kirjoittaa vihkoon luokassa.
Muhammad Abdo Hijzai from East Ghouta is a 13-year-old boy who participated in remedial education in, for example, mathematics, supported by Finn Church Aid. Photo: Abu Talib Al-Buhaya.

The global pandemic has ruthlessly exposed the weaknesses of many countries. In Nepal, more than 25 per cent of the country’s GDP has in recent years consisted of remittances by Nepalese working abroad. With the pandemic forcing migrant workers to return home, families have struggled for more than a year, trying to cope without an adequate income to guarantee a decent living. 

But the pandemic has not brought all progress to a halt, even if we sometimes feel like it. In a number of projects, the situation has forced us to take a big leap forward in technology. For instance, in Kenya we distributed radios to enable women to participate in peace dialogues. Our objective in such projects was to make communities better equipped to resolve conflicts involving natural resources. 

Without a doubt, we will face more challenges in the future. Our climate is becoming increasingly harsh, and in these changing conditions, it is likely that more epidemics will circulate in the population. Natural disasters will force people to leave their homes in growing numbers. According to forecasts, a high population growth rate in Africa will result in massive migration within the continent.  

But the good news is that resilient societies are able to take better precautions and prepare for disasters. In time, the Covid-19 crisis will pass, and this is when Finn Church Aid’s efforts to improve education, support livelihoods and forge peace will bear fruit and produce even more tangible results. Those who have participated in our projects have been building a stronger foundation for their lives, enabling them to pursue a brighter future. 

Ulriikka Myöhänen, Communications Specialist.

This text twas originally published in our Annual Report 2020 that came out recently. Would you like to know more about what was done?

Read also

Amid uncertainty, IDPs in Syria dream of becoming engineers, teachers or car dealers

Emerging stronger after Covid-19

Amid uncertainty, IDPs in Syria dream of becoming engineers, teachers or car dealers

Amid uncertainty, IDPs in Syria dream of becoming engineers, teachers or car dealers 

Syria has 6.7 million internally displaced people (IDPs), many of them children displaced by conflicts, violence and natural disasters. We work with the EU’s European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO) to make sure that schools can be an anchor in children’s lives, even in the midst of crises.

“We’ve had to move many times. I hate the feeling of living in chaos and uncertainty,” says Syrian Rida Issa.  

Syria is home to a generation of children who have lived all or at least a big part of their lives as refugees or displaced in their home country. Rida belongs to that generation. During the armed conflict, his family kept rebuilding their home in East Ghouta, over and over again. 

When the fighting ceased, the family returned to their old neighbourhood. But their home was in ruins, and now Rida lives with his grandparents. 

Rida Issa goes to school in Eastern Ghouta. He has lived part of his childhood in internal displacement. Photo: Abu Talib Al-Buhaya.

Some 6.6 million Syrians who fled the war live as refugees in neighbouring countries like Jordan or Turkey, and some even further away on the Greek islands or central Europe. An equal amount – 6.7 million in a country of 17.5 million people – continue, like Rida’s family, to live in internal displacement within Syria.

For the time being, the fighting in Syria has abated. Nevertheless, in 2020 the country reported having more than 1.8 million new internally displaced persons, almost all of them fleeing conflict and violence. 

  • At the end of 2020, there were a record 55 million internally displaced people in the world. More than 26 million people have fled their home country and been given UN refugee status (2019).  
  • In 2020, 40.5 million people had to flee within their home countries. This is the highest annual figure in a decade. 
  • About 85 per cent of internally displaced people have fled their homes due to conflict or violence. The rest have fled natural disasters, most of which were weather-related (floods, heavy rains, cyclones).  
  • The report authors say that it is particularly worrying that these figures were recorded despite the Covid-19 pandemic, when movement restrictions obstructed data collection and fear of infection discouraged people from seeking emergency shelter.  

Sources: Global Report on Internal Replacement 2021 by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre and a Relief Web news article on the report. UNHCR.

Internally displaced children face many risks. Their chances of attending school and receiving healthcare and protection are compromised. Not only are children torn away from their familiar environment and communities, but they may also be separated from their families and put at an increased risk of child labour and child marriage.   

Living a conflict-torn life as a displaced person affects each child in different ways. Below, Syrian children in Finn Church Aid-supported schools tell in their own words how they feel about it. 

Remal & Enas: Saddened by memories of guns and an absent father 

Year 4 pupil Remal Tahina goes to school in the Daraa area. Remal finds learning difficult but hopes to follow in his father’s footsteps as a car dealer. 

Remal Tahina has difficulties at school. Photo: Abu Talib Al-Buhaya.

“During the war, we had to leave our home village for somewhere else. I still remember the grenades, missiles, tanks and rifles. There were always guns nearby. 

Once a mortar shell dropped close to our home. My grandfather could’ve been injured, but luckily he was in the mosque.  

My family includes my father, mother and two sisters. My father is working in the United Arab Emirates because he couldn’t find work in Syria. My uncle offered him a job at the car dealership and he accepted so he could support us. I miss him all the time. He only visits us during the summer and brings presents. Once I got a bike.  

At school, I have difficulty reading and writing. My friends start fights with me and then say they’re only joking. That bothers me.” 

  • Our work in Syria focuses on rebuilding the war-torn education sector.  
  • This includes repairing school buildings, providing necessary supplies and offering remedial classes for students who have been or are at risk of dropping out of school. 
  • In 2020, a total of 9,345 students were able to continue their learning in refurbished school buildings. A total of 4,749 learners participated in our learning support activities. 3,000 students received a school uniform and school supplies. We offered training to 108 teachers on psychosocial support and teaching in disaster conditions. 

Enas Alasimy, 12, also talks about how the war has affected her. During the war, the Alasimy family spent seven years as refugees in Jordan.  

“I don’t remember much about the war because I was really young. I’ve heard people talk about gunfire, shootings and firearms.  

I’m having trouble at school. I’m too scared to raise my hand and participate because I’m afraid the teacher will hit me if my answer is wrong. 

When I grow up, I’d like to become a teacher to help shy students like me not to be afraid.” 

Enas Alasimy spent seven years as a refugee in Jordan. Now she is 12 years old and says she doesn’t remeber much about the war. Photo: Abu Talib Al-Buhaya.

Muhammad: Long days at the construction site  

Muhammad Abdo Hijzai, 13, from East Ghouta goes to Finn Church Aid-supported remedial classes in maths and other subjects. With nine family members, money is tight in the Hijzai family and Muhammad has to go to work.  

Muhammad Abdo Hijzai has to help his father at work. When the sun goes down, he opens his school books again. Photo: Abu Talib Al-Buhaya.

“When school ends at one in the afternoon, I go to help my father. He is a construction worker; we plaster walls together and prep them for painting. My dad can’t do all the work alone, so that’s why I help him.  

After about six hours of hard work, we stop when the sun goes down. When I get home, I open my school books. I do it to achieve my dreams and make them come true. I can’t spare much time for homework, but I do my best: I study one to three hours a day. 

On weekends I play with my friends because we don’t work on Fridays. I wish I could be with them more often, but I can’t leave my father to cope with all the work on his own. All of my older siblings are girls, so they can’t get involved in this type of work.” 

Aya: Half a life in war 

Aya Darwish, 14, who lives in East Ghouta, noticed how difficult it was to resume studies after years of war.  

Aya Darwish, 14, lives in Eastern Ghouta. She dreams of opening an own art gallery in the future. Photo: Abu Talib Al-Buhaya.

“I’ve always drawn. I draw when I’m sad. I draw when I’m angry. Ironically, I think my drawings are at their best when I’m at my worst.  

I have clear memories of this long war we have had to go through. Things were really hard, and I don’t even have to go into details. By the age of 14, I have spent seven years in war. For half of my life, I have seen the worst things happen in life. That’s why I am grateful for every good thing that happens to me.  

In those seven years, I almost forgot what it was like to go to school. After that time, it was difficult to start studying English again because I hadn’t used or heard the language for a long time. Remedial classes have helped me a great deal.  

I don’t think painting will ever be more than a hobby, but I still dream of opening my own art galleries. That would give me an opportunity to exhibit my paintings and share my view of the world.” 
 

Dreams stay alive, despite difficult conditions  

For children living in conflict areas and as displaced, schools are crucial because they help build a sustainable future and give children the skills to earn a living.  

Omar Al Zuhaili, 14, has lived in internal displacement during the war. He wants to achieve his dreams, whatever the circumstances. Photo: Abu Talib Al-Buhaya.

When he was small, Omar Al Zuhaili, 14, had to flee his home village. But he has been able to return and now attends a refurbished local school. 

“I want to become an architect because I like drawing and designing buildings. I want to achieve my dream, whatever the circumstances. I encourage my friends to complete their studies,” says Omar. 

Education is also a powerful tool to eradicate child labour. Rida Issa, who is 14, knows he’s lucky because he doesn’t have to go to the construction site to help his father. Rida stresses that there is nothing embarrassing about working, but says he hopes that his classmates who have to work will be able to complete their schoolwork.  

“I want to become an electrical engineer because I love inventions. I once designed a small spider from scrap metal. It had a small engine which made the spider vibrate and move,” says Rida.  

Text: Ulriikka Myöhänen, Middle East Communications Specialist

Sources: Global report on Internal Displacement. Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (2021). Lost at Home. UNICEF (2020). 

Ten years of war have passed, and Syria’s humanitarian disaster deepens

War-torn Syria has descended into a financial crisis that worsens the country’s humanitarian situation. Children living through the war need moments in which they can just be children.

“How can I ever repay my country? I have been told that it is too tough for someone my age to ask, but I am growing up in this country. I eat the food that my father, a farmer, has planted in this soil. That teaches me what is happening here. I want to do something for my country when I can.”

These are the words of a Syrian eight-grader from Eastern Ghouta, Ghadeer Al Aghawa, who we interviewed in January.

I was horrified when I read the interview. Does a child really have to be burdened by such thoughts? Her reflections underscore the grim reality: a disaster marks an end to childhood.

Syria has been through a tumultuous decade since the war started in 2011. The intricate conflict involves the government, opposition groups, other countries supporting the various parties, and extremist groups, and the turmoil has a staggering impact on the emerging generation.

The country hosts millions of students who have gone to school in exceptional circumstances.

At least five million children have been born in Syria during the war. An additional million were born as refugees in Syria’s neighbouring countries. According to UNICEF data, thousands of children have been injured, and every ten hours, a Syrian child dies because of the war.

There are no signs of relief as Syria enters another decade in challenging circumstances.

The country faces an unprecedented economic collapse, worse than anything witnessed during the war thus far, writes The New York Times. The currency is weak, salaries have decreased, and the prices of necessities have soared. Syrians suffer from a chronic lack of petrol, which they need for cooking and heating the buildings where many families live.

Marwa Omar Safaya teaches computer science at an FCA supported school in Eastern Ghouta and observes first-hand how the country’s situation affects the children.

“During severely cold winter days, I notice how the children’s hands turn blue. Nothing protects their small bodies from the cold; the price of a coat nowadays equals a month’s salary,” she says.

Opettaja liitutaulun edessä

Teacher Marwa Omar Safaya has seen the war’s impact on children.

The reasons behind the economic collapse are manifold, and many of them are interrelated, such as widespread destruction, international sanctions and the collapse of Lebanon’s banking system.

Statistics by UNOCHA underscore the situation’s severity. The number of people in need has increased by 20 per cent compared to the same period last year. Of Syria’s 18 million people, over 13 million need humanitarian assistance, and six million need it urgently. The World Food Programme (WFP) warned in February that a record number of 60 per cent of the population suffers from a lack of food.

Amid these needs, it is challenging to reconstruct cities ruined by a decade of war. The coronavirus pandemic and the measures curbing it further complicates daily life.

During the first lockdowns, experts worldwide expressed their concerns on how closing schools might affect learning globally. UNICEF and the World Bank said that already a few months of school closure might scar a generation, and worst-case predictions fear entire “lost generations”.

In Syria, the pandemic is only the tip of the iceberg. The country hosts millions of students who have gone to school in exceptional circumstances. Teacher Marwa Omar Safaya feels the pain of her students.

“We try to convince them that life has a lot to offer and that miracles happen when you go to school and work hard. At the end of the day, they only think of how they can complete their mandatory studies to find work and earn food to their table,” Marwa describes.

Tyttö kirjoittaa tussilla taululle maski kasvoillaan

Eight-grader Ghadeer Al Aghawan is disappointed by the lack of computers in her school.

Eight-grader Ghadeer Al Aghawan says she is grateful for all that has been done for her school during the past years, but some things still disappoint her.

“We have IT classes but only theory. We do not have any equipment to practice what we learn, and that is sometimes frustrating. I know that outside our small town, the rest of the world is dependent on computers and technology. I feel like I am falling behind.”

Ghadeer’s disappointment is understandable. The digital divide between different societies is deep, and the divide increases inequality.

Finnish schools, for instance, utilised the internet for learning already when I was at Ghadeer’s age in 2007, and students did school assignments on computers. In Syria, this chance does not exist for most people, even today. It would not even be possible to introduce digital systems amid war. Computers require connections, connections rely on infrastructure, and infrastructure is built with money.

One thing is obvious: the schools play an essential part in disasters like the war in Syria. The schools offer a safe space and room to breathe for children enduring challenging circumstances. Ghadeer has found solace in school.

“For now, I only try to do my best at school”, Ghadeer says.

She has faith in a better future.

“Even after all the fighting, good things have happened, and I’m waiting for the good things that are still to happen.”

Children living through war need to experience moments in which they feel like children. And schools are the best place for that.

Ulriikka Myöhänen

The author works as Communications Specialist for the Middle East at FCA. FCA supports access to quality education for internally displaced people in Syria.

Female teachers pave the way forward: “My voice is heard, and I have a place in my community”

Syria/Uganda.

Of an estimated 80 million teachers in the world, more than half are women. They are everyday heroes who face their share of challenges each day but also role models for countless girls who enrol in school.

A competent teacher is a child’s gateway to society. Surrounded by war, teachers in Syria settle their pupils in their classrooms and help them forget the reality outside school, even if just for a moment. In a Ugandan school for children with disabilities, the world opens up when both teacher and learner know sign language.

A school should be a safe place to grow up in, but this is not always the case. The Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack (GCPEA) reported at least 11,000 attacks on education worldwide between 2015 and 2019. Attacks refer to actions such as bombings, kidnappings, or sexual violence directed at pupils or staff. The threat of attacks is real in Syria, a country living with war for almost ten years.

During the past year, education has faced new kinds of challenges. According to experts, the school closures caused by the pandemic may have far-reaching consequences for an entire generation. As schools reopen, there is a lot of catching up to do, and the new normal comes with practical challenges.

Below, three female teachers share their story. One is worried about the children freezing in school, while another faces doubts because of her age and gender. A third teacher hopes for more resources for special needs education. Despite the challenges, they all think they are on the right path as teachers.

Music brings calm and joy to Syrian youth in Za’atari refugee camp in Jordan

Music is a source of relief to youth coping with the stress of living as refugees in Jordan. FCA’s learning centre teaches them how to play instruments and compose.

Mohammad Al-Ahmad and Moutaz Al-Zoubi have spent most of their lives in Za’atari refugee camp in Jordan. The lives of the two 17-year-olds have been full of changes due to the war in Syria.

Like many other of their age, they had to abandon their homes and schools in Syria when they were children and adjust to life in a refugee camp while losing contact with their friends at home. Refugee children have grown up in a setting of uncertainty and frustration in neighbouring Jordan.

Mohammad and Moutaz describe music as a vital outlet for their emotions and a source of joy.

“I don’t own an instrument, but I have a great passion for music. I want to become a famous, respected and beloved keyboard player when I grow up”, Mohammad says.

Musiikinopettaja ohjaa Mohammad Al-Ahmadin harjoittelua.

Mohammad Al-Ahmad says he gains energy from his music lessons.

Psychosocial support puts minds at ease

When Za’atari refugee camp opened in 2012, Syrians found shelter and emergency assistance, but life was limited. There were no recreational activities or any other ways for children and youth to pass the time. Finn Church Aid (FCA) along with other organisations responded with psychosocial support activities, such as football, netball, circus and music lessons at FCA’s compound in Za’atari.

Meaningful ways of passing time have an immense effect on the well-being of children and youth burdened by the experiences of war and losing their homes. Mohammad’s mind is at ease at FCA’s learning centre. Here, he learnt how to play the keyboard, and he feels energetic when playing.

“I hope I become a professional, like our teacher. I want to teach the children of the camp, especially those that never had a chance to play instruments”, Mohammed says.

Moutaz says he enjoys all kinds of instruments and mentions particularly the keyboard, the oud – a kind of lute – and the darbuka drum. He is also comfortable with singing with a microphone.

Poika kosketinsoittimen ääressä maski kasvoillaan.

Moutaz Al- Zoubi hopes to teach others someday how to play instruments.

Music sessions on Whatsapp during the pandemic

The recreational activities were brought to a halt in March when preventive measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus restricted gatherings in the camp. The music lessons resumed in June with assignments and exercises delivered via Whatsapp. The learners sent recordings to their teacher who replied with feedback. The teachers are also Syrian refugees who live in the camp.

Now the youth have returned to class, and everyone wears a face mask. It is a relief that activities continue, also because of the added distress caused by the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The parents of the participants report that they notice a change in the attitudes and self-confidence of the youth, and say that they are more determined than before. Moutaz agrees.

“Music helps me relax when I am angry or feel down, and singing makes me full of joy”, he says.

Text: Aisha Shtiwi / Oxfam in Jordan
Photos: Wisam Al-Riyabi

Individual supporters donated different types of musical instruments to FCA’s learning centres in Za’atari and Azraq refugee camps in Jordan.

FCA to support quality education in Syria with USD 680,000 from Syria Humanitarian Fund  

FCA will be supporting 4,000 crisis-affected children and youth in Hama area in Syria with access to quality education in a safe and protected environment.

Finn Church Aid (FCA) has been granted over 680,000 USD from the Syria Humanitarian Fund to support 4,000 children and youth to access quality education in Hama area, Syria. 

 After ten years since the war broke out, the Syrian refugee crisis remains the largest displacement crisis of our time. About 6.2 million people are displaced within Syria, and nearly 12 million people in the country need humanitarian assistance. At least half of the affected people are children. 

The war has also left the education system in ruins. More than one in three schools are damaged or destroyed, and many are used for other purposes than education. Some schools operate in double or triple shifts to accommodate the massive influx of displaced children.  

Meeting the needs requires collective efforts from national, regional and international educational actors, says Karam SharoufFCA’s Education Programme Manager in Syria.

Education is the key to comprehensive human, economic and socially sustainable development. Therefore, continuous support should be provided to the education sector in Syria, and educational capabilities that could contribute to rebuilding Syria should be developedSharouf says. 

People walking on scoold yard. School buildings in the background are damaged by the war.

The war has destroyed or damaged many school buildings in Syria. Photo: Karam Sharouf.

Quality education through rehabilitating schools and training teachers 

In the communities that FCA will support in rural Hama, approximately one thousand children are out of school, setting the enrolment rate at 77 per cent. Poverty and a lack of safety and security remain critical barriers to accessing education. Protracted displacement and limited economic opportunities have forced people in Syria to adopt negative coping strategies, including child marriage and child labour. This is usually more common in villages without schools, says Sharouf. 

There are many cases of early marriage, and many families rely on their children working due to the absence of the father, who might have died or travelled awaySharouf says. 

Schools constitute a protected environment for children and enhance their well-being, but currently, schools are overcrowded. They also lack doors, windows, heating systems and learning materials. Sanitation facilities are largely unusable. FCA will rehabilitate school buildings to make them safe and accessible and construct inclusive and gender-sensitive sanitation facilities.  

The need for teacher training is enormous as the number of teachers in Syria’s formal education system has declined by more than half in the past five years. The remaining teachers have not received systematic in-service training during the war, and newly recruited teachers often lack the required qualifications. FCA arranges teacher training that includes child safeguarding and psychosocial support, and equips schools with teaching materials and recreational kits, for example, craft materials and sports equipment. 

The programme will also focus on ensuring access to quality education for children and youth through non-formal education, such as remedial classes and accelerated learning that helps learners to catch up with their age-grade after years out of school.  

These groups will be able to continue education and keep up with the academic achievement of their peers, thus reducing their chances of dropping out of school to a minimumSharouf says. 

FCA has substantial experience in providing quality education services, especially in emergencies, and is a solid partner of local actors already implementing education activities in Syria. 

War turned schools into homes for refugees in northeast Syria – ”We left everything behind”

Al Jarir is one of the biggest refugee camps in the city of Hassakeh, located in northeast Syria. The camp started to fill up after Turkey launched its military operation in northeast Syria in October, forcing 200,000 people to leave their homes.

To many people, the word “refugee camp”, conjures an endless row of tents. At Al Jarir, the building serving as a refugee centre used to be a school. Because of the war, children in many parts of Syria have been unable to attend school for years, but at least the school building itself can now provide internally displaced people with walls around them.

Some of the families in the camp have fled several times. Nine years of war is a long time.

It is winter in northeast Syria as well. As the sun sets, the rooms get cooler. When the temperature outside nears zero degrees Celsius, the inside of the building is a cold place to sleep in, even though the families with an average of seven members live in close quarters.

”My only dream is to have a room with heating. That is enough. I don’t have any more dreams left. I’m tired of this cruel war,” says Maryam Al Saleh, 32.

The classroom floors are covered with thin mattresses meant for emergency housing, blankets, and cardboard boxes from aid organisations. Some families share their room with another family.

Syyrialainen Mariam al-Salehin perhe pakeni Hasakaan Turkin pommitusten kohteeksi lokakuussa joutuneesta Ras al-Ainin kaupungista.

Maryam Al Saleh’s family fled to Hassakeh from the city of Ras al-Ayin shelled by Turkey in October.

”We left everything behind”

In early October, the Turkish troops started shelling Al Saleh’s hometown Ras al-Ayin, located right on the border between Syria and Turkey. The family of seven ran for their lives.

”We left everything behind; clothes, canned food, everything we own. I didn’t even receive my last salary,” Al Saleh tells.

When the shelling and air raids began, youngsters passing by on motorcycles helped the family escape, transporting Al Saleh along with her husband, four daughters and son to within a safe distance from the city. They travelled the rest of the way to Hassakeh onboard a lorry.

Finn Church Aid (FCA) has granted 100 000 euros from its relief fund to support humanitarian operations in northeast Syria.

Mariam al-Issan perhe on lokakuusta majoittunut Ismael Toqanin pakolaiskeskuksessa Hasakan kaupungissa Koillis-Syyriassa.

According to Maryam Al Issa, 41, what is hard about being a refugee, in addition to losing your home, is not receiving help to process the trauma caused by the war. Since October, the family of seven has been living at the Ismael Toqan refugee centre in the city of Hassakeh, northeast Syria.

Nearly 80,000 people still waiting to return home

The stories of the families who have ended up in the Hassakeh refugee camps are very similar: the air strike in October, along with other military operations, hit their home, forcing them to leave so quickly they did not have time to take anything with them.

The situation in northeast Syria is still very unstable, even though a truce was declared in the region at the end of October. This is why tens of thousands of people are still unable to return home. They may not even have anything to retrieve or to return to waiting back home.

The need for humanitarian aid is enormous.

According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), around 80,000 people are still living as internally displaced people in northeast Syria, even though more than half of those who fled in October already have been able to return home.

 

Kitchen kits, food and blankets – FCA supports displaced people in northeast Syria emergency situation to survive the winter conditions

Finn Church Aid (FCA) is working together with its local Syrian church based partner in Damascus to provide the displaced people in city of Hassakeh food packages, water and winterization items during the next two months.

FCA granted 100 000 euros from its relief fund in October to support humanitarian operations in northeast Syria. Together with its local Syrian church based partner, FCA provides 200 households winterization items such as blankets and tarps as well as kitchen kits and water tanks.

“In addition to safe drinking water, we are providing food and winterization items for two shelters in Hassakeh,” says FCA’s Middle East Regional Development Manager Aleksandr Avramenko.

Besides the drinking water and winterization items, there are shortages in food supplies and medicine, as well as lack of medical assistance and primary care to children.

An estimated 200 000 people left their homes after the Turkish military operation started in northeast Syria on 9th October. Approximately 117, 000 people have returned to their areas of origin.

However, the need for humanitarian assistance remains high in northeast Syria. According to UN OCHA, 75,438 people, including around 31,700 children and 18,800 women, remained displaced from the Hassakeh, Raqqa and Aleppo governorates in the end of November.

Of those displaced, approximately 58,000 are residing in host communities and the rest are accommodated in 96 active collective shelters mostly located in Hassakeh governorate.

According to UN OCHA around 1,650,000 people are still in need of humanitarian assistance. Despite recent agreements between parties in northeast Syria aiming at cessation of hostilities, sporadic fighting has continued in the area throughout November causing more people to flee their homes.

Civilians at risk in northeast Syria – FCA supports relief operations with 100 000 euros

Finn Church Aid (FCA) has granted 100 000 euros from its relief fund to support humanitarian operations in northeast Syria.

An estimated 200 000 people have left their homes due to hostilities after the Turkish military operation started in northeast Syria on 9th October. According to UN OCHA, around 1,650,000 people are now in need of humanitarian assistance in northeast Syria.

FCA supports the humanitarian activities of its local partner in Hassakeh, where an estimated 100,000 internally displaced people have been housed in schools, public buildings and host families. Some houses are hosting over 10 families each.

FCA is providing winterization items such as blankets and tarps as well as hygiene kits and water tanks.

“Water tanks will be crucial at this stage, since the local water plant is damaged. Besides drinking water, there are also shortages in food supplies, medicine, lack of medical assistance and primary care to children,” says FCA’s Regional Director for the Middle East Ashraf Yacoub.

Humanitarian needs in the region are increasing, while instability threatens the humanitarian response. Many aid agencies have suspended or relocated their programmes and staff.

“The humanitarian situation in the area is rapidly deteriorating and the humanitarian access to the area must be secured by all sides,” says FCA’s Head of Humanitarian Assistance Eija Alajarva.

More information:

Ashraf Yacoub
Regional Director, Middle East (in Damascus until 21st October)
+963 9986 66658

Eija Alajarva
Head of Humanitarian Aid
+358 40 582 1183