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Amal Mahmoud has lost her husband and her house in the war. Now she is fighting alone for the survival of her family in the ruins of Aleppo. ‘But my strength is ebbing away’, she says. 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, 6.1 million Syrians are currently displaced in their own country. In Syria, a total of 13.1 million people depend on humanitarian aid. A further 5.5 million have sought refuge in neighbouring countries. Continuing violence, multiple displacements, destroyed livelihoods as well as a lack of access to services and everyday necessities drive people to the brink of exhaustion.
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 or cross the border illegally and hence remain 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 families in need
The people of Syria are fighting for survival. With the continuing conflict and displacements within Syria, urgent humanitarian needs remain and become even greater. Every day, more people are still being newly or repeatedly displaced from their homes than are returning to their home town. Since the beginning of the crisis in Syria, Caritas Switzerland has been providing emergency aid to cover basic needs to enable and ensure that survival. Currently, it not only supports people in Homs 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.
Confronting impoverishment with emergency aid and income generation
Jordan currently provides shelter for 650 000 registered Syrian refugees, and approximately the same number of unregistered refugees. They are becoming increasingly impoverished but also increasingly vulnerable. Since 2012, Caritas Switzerland, has been providing assistance in four Jordanian provinces to cover basic needs, winter aid, emergency aid for hardship cases, and is improving the housing and hygiene conditions. The longer the situation continues, the more important it is that the refugees and the local communities are strengthened in a sustainable manner. Since 2016, Caritas has provided vulnerable Syrian refugees and Jordanians with jobs in the waste disposal sector and is simultaneously helping to develop a sustainable waste management system.
Access to proper schooling for refugee children
No country in the world has more refugees per capita than Lebanon. One third of the population, or around 1.5 million people, are from Syria. Half of the refugee children do not go to school, or drop out. The school system is overwhelmed by the sheer number of Syrian children, and the teachers are not adequately trained. That is why Caritas Switzerland supports remedial tuition so that Syrian refugee children and disadvantaged Lebanese children do not fall too far behind the regular school curriculum. The teachers receive training courses to help them to cope with the partially traumatized and disadvantaged children. The development of tools and guidance for initial and continuing teacher training strengthens the school system over the long term.