Civilians pay a heavy toll as the conflict enters its 8th year
(Beirut) – “The last seven years feel like 20,” Fatmeh, a 23 year-old Syrian refugee living in Lebanon, is one of millions of Syrians who have been left homeless and in need of help, as the war still wreaks havoc in their country and civilians pay a heavy price, by being killed, wounded and displaced daily.
A quarter of Syria’s pre-war population has crossed the border, and inside the country more than six million people have been displaced. Around 100 people, on average, have been killed each day since the start of the conflict in 2011. Hundreds of thousands are living under siege, in places like Eastern Ghouta where entire families have been going without food or clean water for weeks now, a few miles from the capital Damascus.
“For millions of men, women and children the past seven years have meant losing their home, moving from one place to the other in search of safety, sometimes beyond Syria’s borders. When will they be able to go back? No one can tell. They feel their lives have been destroyed and the whole world has abandoned them,” said Wouter Schaap, CARE’s Syria country director.
Fatmeh left Syria with her husband to find safety in neighboring Lebanon. “Our house was destroyed, my brother was killed, my mother and I were separated from our other family members. What did we do to deserve this?” she said.
As the conflict enters its eighth year, women have been hit hard. With the Syrian army and its allies, as well as non-state armed groups, fighting on the ground and unprecedented violence in the country, many women have lost a husband, son, or brother to the war. This has shifted the customary male role of heading the household to many women in Syria, who are increasingly assuming both the role of breadwinner and caregiver. According to the UN, one in three households in Syria is headed by a woman. Women and girls constitute more than half of the 13.1 million people who are in need in Syria.
“Syrian women have become more vulnerable due to the war, displacement and the added economic pressure of having to provide for their families. But they have also taken on this new responsibility and need the proper support. We are still working with women, who have been forced into shelters and bunkers, as they continue supporting women and girls in their communities in a dignified way,” said Dr. Maria Alabdeh, Executive Director of Women Now for Development, a Syrian organization supported by CARE.
“Women’s rights have seen some positive changes in the past seven years in the Middle East. Tunisia passed a law against domestic violence, Saudi Arabia is finally allowing women to drive, Lebanon amended an unjust law linked to women’s rape, Jordan appointed its first female Supreme Court judge. And in Syria? Women slipped further into poverty, violence and lawlessness. Yet, they show great courage every single day when they strive to keep their loved ones safe and alive,” said Schaap.
Notes to editors:
- Link to CARE’s video that includes Fatmeh: https://www.careimages.org/pages/view.php?ref=43020&k=70a95b3899
- Link to Fatmeh’s story and photo: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/tt7bakkdmf0dnw8/AAAleUMq6xnhUcn-sLh2AuZIa?dl=0
- CARE has been providing aid in Syria since 2014, and has reached more than 2.7 million people so far. Our work is focused on food security, livelihoods, shelter, water and sanitation, and psychosocial support for people in crisis. We also work in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey with Syrian refugees and host communities.
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