Syrian Father Fears Losing The One Thing He Has Left

by World Food Programme | World Food Programme
Thursday, 27 February 2014 03:06 GMT

* Any views expressed in this article are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters Foundation.

The continuing crisis in Syria has left countless people homeless and jobless. As the conflict grinds on, many families move from one place to another, seeking safety and a way to support themselves. Aziz’s family, which is from Aleppo, has migrated across Syria, then into Iraq  and then back again to Syria.

QAMISHLI, Syria - The city of Qamishli is located just on the borders with Turkey in northeast Syria and most families here have relatives who left Syria and are now living abroad. But Aziz chose to remain in Syria after he fled Bustan Al-Basha in Aleppo hoping his chances at finding a job were higher in Hassakeh's Qamishli.

"I used to live in a big family house in Aleppo with my two brothers but we had no choice but to escape after the neighbourhood had turned into a warzone. I decided to come to Qamishli because I'm a house painter and I thought I might find a job here," Aziz said.

Finding a job was not as easy as he thought though. Aziz got only two jobs in the first six months of settling down at one of the abandoned schools in Qamishli. When the father of three could not afford basic living expenses, he decided to take the risk and try his luck in Iraq.

"We are a family of five! I had no other option but to borrow some money and take my family to Iraq and try to make a living," he said. "After two months of a daily search for a job in the very expensive city of Erbil I had to come back to Qamishli where I received the very sad news that the family house in Aleppo was destroyed during the clashes."

Generous neighbours

After Aziz and his family returned from Iraq, their challenges only got bigger. He found himself living in a small room formerly used by the guard of one of Qamishly's public gardens. The street's residents have allowed him to use it until he finds another shelter. The neighbours were also generous and gave him some kitchen equipment, blankets and a stove for the winter.

"My room at the school was given to another family. The neighbours did help me when I arrived with some money, but that doesn't solve the problem, I need to get a job soon," he said. Aziz has registered again to receive WFP food assistance, after stopping when in Iraq. 

WFP is doing its utmost to reach vulnerable families everywhere. As road access into Al Hassakeh remains perilous for aid agencies, WFP airlifted in December food from Erbil to Qamishli for more than 62,000 people deprived of food assistance for over five months. So far, 16 out of 20 flights have delivered food rations of staple foods enough for over 50,000 people for one month.

Aziz's main concern is his wife and young children; Salma, 10, Ghazi, 8, and Ahmad, who is almost a year old now. The two elder ones have not attended school for more than a year and their father worries that if any of them falls ill he will not be able to afford the treatment. He admits he is very disheartened and in danger of losing hope of peace and a better future.

But he's trying to stay positive for his children. "I don't want to lose my smile. It's the last thing I can still afford to give my children."