In 2011, conflict forced Suleiman* and his family to flee their village in eastern Idleb in Syria. Now 13 years old, he still remembers the joy that filled his father’s ancestral house during the first three years of his young life.
“My parents, brothers, sisters – we all lived in our family home and our life was beautiful. Being the family’s youngest child, I was pampered,” he says.
Life in a displacement camp
But Suleiman and his sisters lost both their parents. Today, they are struggling to make a living at a displacement camp near Kafr Aruq village in Northwest Syria. Their new home is a hundred kilometers away from what remains of their childhood home in Idleb’s countryside. The camp is located on a small plot of agricultural land and houses 60 makeshift tents pitched by families fleeing war. It’s a stone’s throw away from the Bab al Hawa international crossing gate on Syria’s northwestern border with Turkey.
The crossing is the last remaining UN-authorized humanitarian access point between Syria and its neighbours and helps deliver vital aid for over 2 million people in Northwestern Syria. People like Suleiman and his sisters.
Providing for the people in need
In 2014, the UN Security Council voted unanimously to adopt Resolution 2165 which authorised the use of four border crossings for humanitarian aid delivery: at Bab al Salam, Bab al Hawa, Al Yarubiyah and Al Ramtha. Today, the level of humanitarian need in Syria is much higher than it was in 2014 and yet, the number of international border crossing have been reduced to just one. This vital humanitarian corridor is a lifeline for millions of Syrians.
Over 1,000 UN aid trucks pass through the Bab Al Hawa crossing every month. This year alone, 2.1 million people in the region were able to put food on the table thanks to the vital aid transported through Turkey via this humanitarian corridor.
Around 65,0000 people received non-food core relief items or support towards maintaining their shelter, while Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene programming led by UN agencies reached more than 300,000 beneficiaries. The humanitarian corridor at Bab al Hawa was also used to deliver 53,800 Covid-19 vaccine doses into Northwest Syria in April 2021.
GOAL teams are currently operating one of the largest basic-needs assistance programmes in Northwest Syria. In June, our staff reached more than 300,000 people in Idleb and Northern Aleppo with vouchers they can exchange for food and household items of their choice at GOAL-contracted shops. With our GOALies support the 50 water stations in Idleb continued to deliver clean water into the homes of a population of around 800,000 people. Additionally, 32 GOAL- supported bakeries in Idleb and Northern Aleppo supplied subsidized bread for over 800,000 people.
GOAL staff are working on the ground in Northwest Syria, supporting millions of people in conflict-affected communities. Today’s decision by the UN Security Council to maintain the only remaining border at Bab al Hawa is a huge relief to staff and and the communities we work with in Syria.
Keeping the flame of hope alive
For Suleiman, and millions of other vulnerable children like him in Northwest Syria, the delivery of humanitarian assistance is often a glimpse of hope in the midst of life-threatening uncertainties.
“There is still good in this world. One of GOAL’s teams visited us and conducted a survey, then another one visited us to give assistance. They treated us well, consoled us and helped us,” he says. His wish, like many other displaced people in Northwest Syria, is to be able to go back to his family’s village and farm his father’s land. For so long, the international community has failed to make this wish a reality. Today’s decision sustains this glimpse of hope.
*This interviewee’s name was changed in order to protect his identity.