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‘How much longer?’– Ali Al-Ahmad asks himself every day. He was forced to flee with his family from near Aleppo to Damascus. A civil war has been raging in Syria since March 2011, with still no political solution in sight. The war has led to the greatest humanitarian disaster in history: According to UNOCHA, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 6.6 million people are currently displaced within Syria, and more than 4.9 million have sought refuge in neighbouring countries. Many of those who could remain in their home town also live in the most precarious conditions. Two-thirds of the total population of Syria, around 13.5 million people, depend on humanitarian assistance.
Due to massive underfunding of the necessary aid, the United Nations as well as the neighbouring countries are repeatedly forced to restrict their support for the refugees. The neighbouring countries can no longer cope with the influx of refugees and have closed their borders years ago. This means that at the moment, additionally, thousands of people are stranded in inaccessible no-man's-land with hardly any support.
Since April 2012, Caritas Switzerland has carried out emergency aid projects with partner organisations in order to meet people’s most pressing needs. It has also continually expanded its work in the areas of education and income generation. Children make up half of the refugees. Often, they have no access to good quality education. The longer the people are unable to return home, the more important it is for them to be able to find ways of generating an income at their temporary place of residence so they do not become permanently dependent on emergency aid.
Emergency aid for internally displaced families
The people of Syria are fighting for survival. Since the beginning of the crisis in Syria, Caritas has been providing emergency aid to cover basic needs to enable and ensure that survival. It not only supports people in Homs, Damascus and Aleppo with food and everyday items; but it also assists them to make rental payments, and pays for basic medical care and school attendance. As a matter of principle, food security is still a top priority, above all in Aleppo, where the Caritas Switzerland soup kitchen distributes 8000 warm meals daily to needy Syrian families.
Confronting impoverishment and exclusion with emergency aid and income generation
Jordan currently provides shelter for 650 000 Syrian refugees. They are becoming increasingly impoverished but also increasingly vulnerable. Since 2012, in four Jordanian provinces, Caritas Switzerland, within the scope of its emergency aid project, has been providing assistance to cover basic needs, winter aid, emergency aid for cases of specific hardship, and for improving sanitation and hygiene conditions. Since 2016, it has also created income opportunities for 3 000 Syrian refugees and vulnerable Jordanians, by providing them with jobs in the waste disposal sector.
Access to proper schooling for refugee children
Lebanon, in addition to its previously four million inhabitants, now has more than one million refugees from Syria living there. The situation is tense and extremely precarious. By means of a school project, Caritas is creating a safe and stimulating learning environment for 9100 Syrian refugee children and disadvantaged Lebanese children. Thus the children can follow the lessons and so get through their day at school with some success to show for it. The teachers receive training courses to help them to cope with the partially traumatized and disadvantaged children. Furthermore, the management skills of head teachers are strengthened.