Rima Marrouch: “Struggling to aid Syria’s internally displaced”
As thousands of Syrians have fled the country to escape violence, thousands more are in need of help as they remain stuck inside the country.
In what seems like an entirely different life, 25-year-old Aous was a former Syrian university student. Now he helps internally displaced compatriots.
The young activist from Deir el-Zor cannot forget many of the 150-200 families that arrived from Homs to his hometown in the northeast of the country: “There were mostly women and children; the men stayed behind in Homs,” he says. “We provided them with a place to stay and food. One mother took part of the food and travelled back to Homs. She said that she is old, so hopefully the army would let her cross and help the families of her married daughters that stayed there. She returned after few days.”
Unlike international organizations that assist Syrian refugees in neighboring countries, those who help an internally displaced person (IDP) must work in secret to avoid authorities. “Many of the young activists who work with us are wanted by Syrian authorities so they are not moving freely,” says Abed Aidy, the director of the Najda Now, a Syrian relief organization. One of the activists working with Najda Now was recently detained.
Despite the difficulties and the grim reality, Aidy says Najda Now recently delivered 80 bags of flour to Douma, which has a serious shortage of flour since the regime’s army surrounded the city in the last few weeks. Najda Now also gives food baskets with rice, sugar, oil, and bread to families that are forced to leave their houses, or to families that stayed in the affected areas but lost their source of income and their homes.
Aidy says Najda Now has been providing aid for about 2,700 IDPs and estimates about 14,000 people are internally displaced. Additionally, approximately 25,000 Syrians have registered with UNHCR in Turkey, another 10,000 in Lebanon, and 12,500 in Jordan. Najda Now has assisted people mostly in Damascus and its suburbs, but has also worked around Idlib, Homs, Deraa, and Aleppo suburbs.
“We know that it is a long-term work,” Aidy says. “Now we are focusing on feeding people, but soon we want to start big project to provide psychological assistance for people who witnessed violence, or who went through detention or rape.”
Edits: Andrew Bossone
©Photo : Rima Marrouche – Alexandra Zavis
Rima Marrouch is a Syrian-Polish freelance reporter. She was brought up in Homs in the 90s, when Homs was a happier place. She has reported from Libya and Syria for the LA Times. She also worked for the “Committee to Protect Journalists/Middle East and North Africa Program”. Today, she is based in Lebanon, in Beirut.
You can follow Rima on Twitter and write her under @RimaMarr.blog comments powered by Disqus