Syria is the biggest and the most complex humanitarian crisis of our time. In the five years since the start of the conflict, millions of men, women and children have been displaced inside and outside the country. Lives have been lost, children have dropped out of school and and the dreams of an entire generation have been shattered.
Since the start of the year, the World Food Programme has been trying to give a voice to the ordinary people caught up in the turmoil of the ongoing conflict.
I am a man. I am a woman. I am a mother, a son, a father, or a daughter. I am a refugee. #IamSyrian
Over the past few months, we have heard from mothers like Inas, who lost her husband in Syria and fled with her daughters to the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon, where she lives in a tent, dependent on the World Food Programme for a monthly payment that allows her to buy food. “My only hope is for my children to lead a luckier life than me,” Inas told us when we caught up with her earlier this year.
Like so many Syrians who have fled across borders into neighbouring countries, Jamal, used to be a successful craftsman, working as a carpenter in the small Syrian town of Khirbet Gazeleh. When he left for Jordan, the only thing he took with him as a reminder of his past was his hammer. “I miss my country, my home, my neighbours,” he told us, “There is nothing left for me now.”
Today’s children in Syria are known as the “lost generation.” Among them, 13 year old Nasser who fled conflict in his home town of Aleppo and who now scrapes a living in Lebanon. Nasser should be at school, but instead he spends his days sifting through rubbish, searching for empty tins and bits of scrap metal. On a good day, he can sell what he finds for around $1 – money that he gives to his family. “All my hopes today are to return to my home country,” Nasser told us, “I want my life back in Syria.
For some of the people we have spoken to, the upheaval and disruption of their lives is almost too much. Badreya is a young mother who used to live in Darraya in rural Damascus – an enclave now under siege and cut off from the outside world. Badreya describes the place where she used to live as a “hell on earth.” Now living in Lebanon, she finds solace with her sisters, rising early in the morning to listen to the sound of birdsong, closing her eyes and trying to imagine she is home in Syria at a time before war wrecked her life.
In the coming months we will be sharing more stories of the people behind the crisis in Syria: individuals like Badreya, Jamal, Inas and Nasser, as well as others including the many Syrians who are helping the World Food Programme with its work to provide food assistance inside and outside the country. In their own words, all of these Syrians make a heartfelt appeal to our common humanity.
You can show your solidarity and help bring attention to their stories by linking or sharing #IamSyrian stories on social media.