Shelter and survival items

Islamic Relief has been meeting the basic needs of vulnerable internally displaced people. In 2020 our particular focus was on filling gaps in provision in camps and other sites hosting internally displaced people, and helping them to get through the harsh winter months.

During the 2019/2020 winter, our winter survival programme reached over 120,000 displaced people in Syria. They received vouchers with which to buy essential basics, and survival items such as blankets, plastic sheets and mattresses, which helped to improve their wellbeing and preserved their lives and dignity.

“Before the crisis we earned a good living. Now we depend on charity.”

“We were sleeping when the bombing started, but woke up terrified. Children and women were screaming,” says Umm Ismail, 62, recalling the night bombs fell on her village, in Jabal Al-Akrad, in Salma.

“We fled barefooted, as far away from the danger as possible. We wandered through the darkness of the night. The only light showing us the way came from the rockets falling from the sky. We were very afraid.”

She and her family reached a neighbouring village, where they stayed until that also came under bombardment, forcing them to flee again.

They have now been living in dire conditions in a camp near the Syrian-Turkish border for five years.

“I live in this tent with my children and grandchildren. My husband passed away several years ago,” says Umm Ismail, explaining that there is no work in the area and the family struggle to make ends meet.

“My son suffered from a nervous breakdown at the beginning of the crisis. He was shell-shocked when

our village was bombed, causing his condition to deteriorate still further.”

Only one of Umm Ismail’s children is able to obtain occasional work, but their wages are not enough to cover even the family’s basic needs.

“I feel sad about the situation I face now. It is a heartache that never leaves me. We used to earn a good livelihood and eat delicious food. Now we can barely afford the price of bread. We rely on charity,” says the grandmother, who also worries that her family are ill equipped to protect themselves from Covid-19.

“We are very afraid of coronavirus. We try to reduce contact with others to protect ourselves, but we do not always have money to buy masks or cleaning supplies. Thank God, Islamic Relief provides us with food and hygiene baskets. The basket keeps us going for about a month. It contains rice, sugar, lentils, and bulgur, as well as legumes, cleaning and sterilisation materials.”

Originally from Maarat al-Nu’man in Syria, Umm Abdo and her two children now face dire conditions in Khirbet camp. Islamic Relief provides them with coal, which they burn to keep warm.

Shelter and NFIs Projects