Stories from Syria: “We had to leave or else we would have died”

7 July 2021

Hombeline Duliere - CAFOD's Syria Emergency Programme Manager – meets Syrian families who have had to leave their homes behind.

I’m here to meet with some people who were made homeless by the war in Syria: Rana, Fadi and Firaz.

Sitting in a quiet courtyard, birds singing in the background, it’s almost possible to believe the war is over. But although the conflict is not making headlines any more, millions of Syrian people have fled as refugees, and millions more have been made homeless within the country. Outside this small haven, reality hits me again: buildings are in a state of ruin or severely dilapidated.

“The ruins can be dangerous for our children” Rana tells me. When the city was being shelled, they did not leave the area as they did not have anywhere else to go. So Rana and her three children found a place to hide underground, hoping that they would live another day.

“What we fear the most is our children’s security and future” she added. And as a mother myself, I cannot imagine how it must be to fear for my child’s life every day and dread what tomorrow holds for us.

The whole family today lives in a one-bedroom apartment. Besides a couple of mattresses on the bare ground that they use as sofas during the daytime and as beds at night, they have no other belongings. “We don’t even have a refrigerator!” Rana told us laughing.

Rana’s children all have disabilities and it’s very difficult for the youngest to hold a pencil, but he loves to draw and is determined to be creative. Despite their struggles, the family keep smiling and joking.

Your donations to our Syria Appeal support local organisations inside Syria to provide humanitarian assistance to the most vulnerable and those in need, like Rana. “If you had not helped us, I don’t know how we would have managed to get by."

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Fadi lives in another neighbourhood of the city. He and his family decided to leave their home when the bombing got closer to their house. “We had to leave or else we would have died” he said bluntly. 

After the situation stabilised, he returned to the city to check on what used to be his home. Seeing his neighbourhood and what was left of his house, he cried. “It was my home, where I raised my children, our safe haven.”

Since so many families have lost their homes because of the war, your donations help local organisations to rebuild their houses. Fadi was one of these people. With pride and satisfaction, he showed us what he had done to fix his home. “Now I can provide protection to my family” he said.

Find out more about our Syria crisis response

Firaz is also now back in his hometown, but his house was destroyed.

Although he doesn’t have much left, he’s now working at a local organisation that helps bring people together as they rebuild. “We don’t differentiate between religions. What matters is the human being. We work on principles of solidarity, equality, dignity. Harm, pain and death do not differentiate between Muslims and Christians. It strikes everyone”.

Pray for peace in Syria

Unfortunately, as it stands today in Syria, not all parents can provide protection for their families, and not all families can return home.

Violence continues across the country and some refugees attempting to return have faced detention, torture and worse.

With your support, we can continue to reach out with practical help to families made homeless by the conflict, and call for a political process that can address the root causes of the crisis, guarantee respect for human rights and ensure a peaceful future for our sisters and brothers like Rana, Fadi and Firaz.  

Donate to our Syria Crisis Appeal

We are not sharing photos of Rana, Fadi or Firaz or naming their home city for security reasons, in order to protect them.

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