Hanan is one of the numerous victims of the Syrian conflict. At 31, she lives in a small tent in Yazibagh camp for displaced people with her husband Zakariah, their three children aged 3 to 9, and two other families. Zakariah was diagnosed with Hepatitis B and their son Hamid is disabled and cannot walk. 18 persons share the tent and only have 5 mattresses between them. They have very few blankets and no stove, and are having a hard time in winter conditions.
Hanan and her family used to live a peaceful life in their village of origin, and Zakariah earned stable income to provide food for all, as well as clothes and medication for little Hamid. “My husband had two jobs, she tells, as a builder and in an iron factory, while I worked the land. I was getting skilled in small-scale agriculture, and had plans to buy sheep for breeding. My main concern was to get healthcare for Hamid and enable him to go to school like his sister.”
Now that Zakariah is ill, he cannot provide for his loved ones. In winter conditions, his health and his son’s are not getting any better. “Our living conditions have become really bad because of the small tent we have to share, illness and the rising food prices. Food distributions are scarce and we cannot meet our daily needs. All we eat is bread, some cereal, and a few vegetables. There is no milk for the kids.”
The rapid spread of infectious diseases
When they had to move away from their village, they were confronted with their difficulties tenfold. Illness and disability quickly became heavy burdens, on top of their daily struggle to find adequate food and water, and preserve their hygiene. Skin diseases began to spread among the displaced, and the winter brought along the flu. When they first arrived in Yazibagh, there weren’t enough toilets for all, and no opportunities to earn money.
Seeking a suitable sanitary environment
In order to improve living conditions for families such as Hanan’s, Solidarités International organized garbage collection and the distribution of waste bins. “We had no choice but to throw our garbage in the valley nearby, Hanan says. There used to be a bad smell everywhere and diseases would spread easily. Thanks to the new garbage collection system, people were encouraged to take better care of their hygiene.”
The additional distribution of dignity kits not only helped people improve their hygiene, but also to save money for other expenses such as medication.
A water shortage in the camp also brought about the urgency to provide clean water for everyone. But with the increasing numbers of conflict victims in Syria, more is needed every day to provide enough aid to the thousands of families. “We have water now, Hanan adds, but there aren’t enough water tanks for all.”