SYRIA: surviving years of conflict
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Syria is facing 12 years of war. For many, it’s a struggle to survive. The conflict has led to escalating violence, growing economic instability and a lack of basic services, such as healthcare. Added to this are the disastrous effects of recent earthquakes, against a backdrop of winter and cholera epidemics.
Humanitarian situation worsens in Syria
A family in Aleppo, Syria, who fled the cracked building where they lived, following the earthquakes. Photo: Islam Mardini / Oxfam
Building destroyed in Aleppo, following the earthquakes that struck Syria in February 2023. Photo: Islam Mardini / Oxfam
The people of Syria are facing incredible challenges. The country is experiencing the largest refugee and displaced persons crisis of our time.
This difficult situation is exacerbated by a number of factors, including:
- large-scale military operations in the north-east
- massive population displacements in the north-west
- Israeli air strikes
- economic sanctions and the Lebanese financial crisis
- the cholera epidemic
- effects of the recent earthquakes in Turkey
“People told us that the earthquake had pushed them to the brink. For almost all the families we spoke to, it was at least the second time they had been forced to leave their homes since the start of the conflict. Nearly half of them now spend most of their income on food, leaving very little to cover their other basic needs.”
An inadequate humanitarian response
According to the World Food Program, the average income in Syria barely covers a quarter of a family’s food needs. This is all the more dramatic given that 94% of households have at least one wage-earner. More than half the Syrian population is food insecure. And if aid does not increase, nearly 3 million people could go hungry.
Essential basic services are also largely lacking. Access to drinking water, sanitation, electricity, healthcare and education is very limited. According to the United Nations, 75% of families have less than 8 hours of electricity a day, and 52% rely on unsafe alternatives to running water. What’s more, 90% of the Syrian population lives below the poverty line.
Oxfam-Québec supports Syrian populations
Following the earthquakes, Oxfam installed 40 water tanks in temporary shelters and supplied drinking water to 46 locations, as here in Aleppo. Photo: Islam Mardini / Oxfam
Following the earthquakes, Oxfam distributed more than 2,250 hygiene kits (including soap, shampoo, sanitary towels and diapers) in shelters, as here in Aleppo. Photo: Islam Mardini / Oxfam
In addition to the emergency aid provided by the Oxfam network, Oxfam-Québec is maintaining its support in Syria thanks to funding from Global Affairs Canada. Our teams are working in the south of the country, in the governorate of Deraa and in rural areas around Damascus.
This project, which began in February 2020, aims to supply around 10,000 families with drinking water. Our actions include:
Rehabilitate damaged sewer and drainage systems
Restore the aqueduct network (artesian well, pumps, water tower and distribution network).
Install latrines and sanitation systems
Providing an alternative source of electricity
Promote good hygiene practices and distribute waste bins
Distributing food to affected communities
Women struggle to survive in Syria
Twelve years after the start of the conflict, Syrian women are still concentrating on their survival and that of their families. People are either stranded or sinking deeper into poverty. Like so many Syrian women Oxfam works with, the question of whether they will be able to feed their families is a daily concern.
Monira, her husband and their 3 children left their home in Aleppo due to the earthquakes. They now live in a tent where survival is a daily challenge.
“Right after the earthquake, we saw cracks in the walls. We couldn’t stay. So we went into a tent. We fetch water from a nearby park and collect leftovers from the streets, like dry bread. I don’t know how long this will last. I hope we’ll have a roof over our heads before the holy month of Ramadan.”
Photo : Islam Mardini / Oxfam
Nesreen, 39, lives with her family of six in rural Damascus. She tends her garden to try to support her family’s diet.
“I remember a dark afternoon five years ago, when the sound of explosions began to rise all around us. Going to hide in the nearest cellar in the neighborhood with my children was as risky as staying in our house. I told myself that if we were to die today, let it be here, in our house. Nothing will erase these memories from my heart and mind.”
Photo: Dania Kareh / Oxfam
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