Delivering hope in a 'time of great need'

Hani*, 16, and his siblings outside their family’s tent in a community for displaced people in Herjalleh, Syria. Photo: Dania Kareh/Oxfam

Seven years after the Syria crisis began, families are struggling to access necessities, like water, food, and medicine. 

This week marks seven years of brutal conflict in Syria. More than 12 million Syrians have fled their homes and are living as refugees in their own or neighboring countries—the majority in dire poverty.

Hani,* 16, and his family are among them. Escalating violence forced them from East Ghouta, Syria, in 2013 to a community south of Damascus called Herjalleh. With no income, they couldn’t afford to rent an apartment. They had no choice but to set up a tent in this community of 30,000—nearly half of whom come from elsewhere in Syria. 

Five years later, they are still living in a tent, but Hani is grateful for what shelter he has. ‘’Somehow, we got used to this tent,” he says. “At least there are no sounds of bombardment to keep me and my brothers awake all night.”

The rapid increase in Herjalleh’s population has strained local resources, including its water network. The only way for families like Hani’s to get enough clean water consistently is to pay for it, but the cost is prohibitive—the equivalent of $12 a month, when the average income across rural Damascus is $100 a month.

So they must use public water fountains, and the nearest one is a 20-minute walk for Hani and his younger brothers along a busy highway. Hani’s mother is afraid her children will be hit by a car on one of their daily trips.

An Oxfam worker checks the water quality of the fountain that many families in Herjalleh visit to collect water. Photo: Dania Kareh/Oxfam

Recognizing that Herjalleh’s water supply couldn’t meet the needs of the growing population, Oxfam began trucking water to shelters in the community. Between December 2017 and February 2018, Oxfam provided 66,043 gallons of clean, safe drinking water to over 2,000 families. This is part of our long-term strategy to provide aid for those in Syria as well as refugees in Jordan and Lebanon.

Over the past year, Oxfam has helped more than 2 million people in Syria and in host communities. That includes providing safe drinking water, sanitation, and vital food aid, as well as helping refugees make a living.

Now Hani and his siblings are no longer putting themselves at risk when they collect water.

“My little children used to walk every day, back and forth to fetch water, but now we have been filling water directly from Oxfam water trucks,” says Hani’s mother. “We hope the water shortage here is solved soon—this water came at a time of great need.”

*His name has been changed to protect his identity.

If you are interested in helping people like Hani gain access to essential supplies, you can make a donation to support Oxfam's work in Syria and in neigboring host communities. 


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