This week marks the eighth anniversary of the devastating war in Syria that has left over 13 million people in need of humanitarian aid. Islamic Relief has been on the ground throughout the crisis, delivering €335 million of aid, while the needs of the population continue to escalate.
With six million Syrians displaced from their homes, many have now been living in dire conditions for years, facing daily threats to their lives, dignity and wellbeing. There are ongoing food and water shortages and inadequate access to sanitation and medical care continues to put the health of the population at risk.
Over the past eight years, Islamic Relief has been working with war-affected people in Syria, Jordan and Lebanon, meeting their urgent needs and helping them adjust to what has tragically become the long-term reality of living with war.
We have provided three million families with emergency food and one million with access to healthcare. We have helped half a million people survive through harsh winters and educated 20,000 children who would have missed out on school.
One the children who received Islamic Relief’s support is Shahd, a girl who was forced to flee her home in Damascus when violence escalated eight years ago.
“My mother ran away with us in the middle of the night, moving from city to city, from village to village, looking for safety after my father died during the crisis. We spent nine months living in a state of turmoil and instability.”
“We spent several days there until we were offered a tent. It was very difficult, and I could not sleep that night. I had a lot of hopes and pains, fears and mixed feelings wandering in my mind.
“Over the course of several months, the sense of responsibility began to grow,” says Shahd. “When my mother found an opportunity to earn an income, she made some money to provide us with the basics of life.
“We joined a school in one of the neighbouring camps. We spent a whole year studying, but the education was not at the required level so we had to look for another school and move to another camp nearby.”
For four years the family has been living in a state of displacement, moving from one camp to another, in search of a place where food, health centres and schools with an acceptable level of education are available.
“The crisis in our country has been going on for nearly eight years,” says Shahd. “With these difficulties, my mother stands with her hands on our shoulders, pushing us towards success. Thanks to God, we have not disappointed her.
“At the end of each academic year, the results of the exams come out announcing our success, with my younger brothers in the first ranks of the school, filling my mother’s heart with joy, and seeing tears of joy in her eyes – it is a great day.
“I dream of becoming a surgeon, treating all the children who are suffering from this war, and providing them with the necessary help in order to live in peace,” says Shahd. “I ask God to end this war and to return to our country, our people and all our friends.”
Islamic Relief was there to help Shahd’s family survive harsh winter conditions in the camp by providing them with warm blankets and mattresses – and a little bit of hope that they can get through the ordeal of living through war.
Shahd’s family is just one of thousands who fled their homes hoping to return as soon as the conflict ended, but that end is still not in sight. Like many Syrians, they have the resilience to make the best of even the most difficult circumstances, but their lives are precarious and their long-term future remains uncertain.
Islamic Relief is doing all we can to help those caught up in this brutal conflict. Last year alone, our far-reaching interventions assisted over 2.9 million people in Syria and neighbouring countries. Learn more about our response to the crisis in our report, Syria: Eight Years of Saving Lives.
Help us continue to be a lifeline for those still suffering: please donate to our Syria appeal.