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Syria: Surviving in Damascus

Syria: Surviving in Damascus

Amid the noise and smoke of gunfire, bombs and heavy shelling, citizens of Damascus try to continue with life as normal. Two years into this war, people left homeless by the violence have become accustomed to sleeping on mattresses squeezed together onto the floor of Hamza and Abbas Mosque.

Two rooms in the mosque provide a refuge for families forced to flee their homes. Men and boys sleep at one end of the building, while women, girls and babies share a room at the opposite end. Mattresses cover every inch of floorspace. And yet despite cramped conditions, these living quarters are immaculately kept.

Over the past two years, this mosque has become much more than a temporary shelter for these people. They are grateful for the support they receive, and each person has turned their little square of space into somewhere they can call home.

Struggling to get to school

Ten-year-Byan looks on despondently as a group of men argue. For Byan, the war is eroding her hopes of becoming a teacher. She has just received her school results, and like many Syrian children she has failed her Year 3 exams.

This is hardly surprising: the war means that Byan has only been able to attend school for one month out of the whole academic year. But her family are deeply saddened that their bright daughter’s education is being destroyed by events they have nothing to do with her. Their only hope is that she will be able to catch up in September. But they do not yet know whether her school will be reopened, or if, like so many others, it will be turned into a shelter for more displaced families.

In a small kitchen, volunteers prepare hundreds of meals a day on equipment supplied free of charge by the local community. They cater for the families who have lived here for many months, but they must also feed the growing number of people who come to the mosque in the desperate search for food.

Infant milk unaffordable as inflation spirals

Rising inflation means that staple foods and essential items are beyond the reach of many. Even infant milk is too expensive for some mothers. Ordinary people all over Syria are finding it harder and harder to afford day-to-day necessities.

Rasha Muhrez, the Syrian leading SOS Children’s emergency response in his country, is concerned that spiralling inflation will cause yet more hardship for families who are already struggling: “Approaching the holy month of Ramadan, the resources of the local community are dwindling and the cost of meat and other commodities is rising rapidly.

“SOS Children supports the good work of volunteers by providing food and other goods. But much more is urgently needed to help care for children and keep families together during Ramadan and afterwards.”

SOS Children is doing everything possible to bring better conditions to those made homeless by the war. But with no end in sight, and people on every side of the firing line affected, more humanitarian support is needed if families are to survive.

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