Supporting Families in Urgent Need
A recent escalation of violence in Northwest Syria has displaced more than 120,000 people in Idleb and Northern Aleppo. Endless airstrikes have made life unbearable for communities under heavy shelling. Thankfully, with support from EU Humanitarian Aid, GOAL teams have reached 2,950 vulnerable families with financial assistance in recent weeks.
With direct cash assistance, households have been empowered to prioritise their family's needs - purchasing food, cooking supplies, clothes and medicine to help survive the bombardment.
“These recent attacks have deepened our wounds, renewing our pain,” 27-year-old Kareem* says. Kareem and his family have spent the last decade travelling across war-torn Idleb and into neighbouring Türkiye (Turkey) seeking refuge. He's also had to cope with his own personal battle. Kareem suffers from a hereditary form of skin cancer.
Finally safe in Türkiye, the respite proved to be short-lived. When the devastating earthquakes struck southeast Türkiye and northwest Syria in February this year, Kareem and his family were forced to flee once again. They moved to Sarmin, a town that had sustained less damage in the disaster, where Kareem's relatives offered them shelter. However, Sarmin also proved a temporary safe haven.
“About four weeks ago, without warning, bombs began to fall on most of the villages, towns, and cities in northwestern Syria. We lived through catastrophic days. Before the attacks I felt I was carrying the weight of my illness, but when under bombardment my disease became my lightest burden,” Kareem explains.
You experience the peak of helplessness when you see your children scared, trembling.
The decision to flee Sarmin, where Kareem’s family had access to a network of community support, was not taken lightly. “You experience the peak of helplessness when you see your children scared, trembling. Although it was dangerous to travel while bombs were falling all around us, I gathered my children one evening when the shelling waned a bit and we escaped without looking back,” Kareem says. “After a marathon trip that ended in the early hours of the morning, we reached the sprawling Heish camp on the outskirts of the town of Kelly, where my grandmother resides,” he adds.
Kareem’s grandmother Um Khaled* was happy to welcome her grandson’s family to her modest brick shelter in Heish camp. “We have been reunited thanks to the tragedies of oppression, war and displacement,” the 62-year-old says wryly.
Since her four young grandchildren were orphaned in 2012, Um Khaled has had to flee conflict three times. Three times Um Khaled and her four young grandchildren have had leave everything behind and start over. The children have grown up looking to the skies in fear. In February the threat came from beneath them. Once again, the family were forced from their homes when the earthquakes struck.
GOAL’s support saved me and my family from hunger and brought a smile to our face.
The fear of earthquakes and tremors has subsided but the family continue to face ongoing challenges. GOAL's support has been crucial Kareem says. "We arrived at this camp with my mother and siblings, to live with my grandmother and my uncle's orphaned children. We thought we would become a burden on my grandmother, who’s dependent on aid herself,” he explains.
“But GOAL’s cash support for those fleeing the bombings saved me and my family from hunger and brought a smile to our face. I was able to buy the food that my children had long craved and also to purchase shoes for them. Thanks to this assistance, we met a part of the high costs of the medical treatments that I, my brother, my mother, and my disabled sister need.”
*The names of Kareem and his family have been changed to protect their identity
GOAL in Syria
After more than a decade of conflict, over 6.8 millions Syrians are internally displaced. 70% of Syrians are in need of humanitarian assistance and relying on aid to survive day-to-day.
GOAL teams have been working on the ground in Syria since the conflict began in 2012. In the last year GOAL's emergency response programme has reached over 287,000 newly displaced people with food, cooking supplies and financial assistance. As GOAL engineers repair damage to water network infrastructure, more than 1.1 million people are now able to access clean drinking water in their homes. A further 430,000 people are benefitting from GOAL's bakery programme in North-West Syria.