How the Red Cross has helped six million people living through the Syrian Crisis
Millions of Syrians have been made refugees and millions more are in need of the basics to survive. Here, people share their stories of how life has improved after receiving aid
The humanitarian impact of the Syria crisis is hard to overstate. The conflict has killed at least 500,000 people since it began in 2011. Twelve million people have fled their homes because of fighting and over five million now live as refugees. Today, 11.7 million people – more than half the country’s population – are in need of humanitarian aid.
What we’re doing in Syria
The Red Cross and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent reach more communities than any other agency. To date, six million people have directly benefited from your donations. Your support helped us provide 580,000 food items and distributed over 1.5 million other items such as blankets and mattresses. We’re also helping people who have lost everything learn new skills and earn a living by growing vegetables and farming sheep.
Supporting small businesses
One person we have helped is Fatima Khayat, a widow and a baker with an irrepressible smile.
Fatima’s modest workshop bears the same scars of conflict as Aleppo.
Inside however, the place is a hive of activity. Machines whirr and employees chatter as they twist plastic wrapping paper around the produce they have each come to see as an unlikely means to a brighter future.
“[The cookies are] coloured especially for children,” said Fatima, that smile hard to conceal. It is a sweet mainly for kids.
“Every time I see my project growing, I thank God. We started simple and now we are enhancing it. I feel very happy and we will start making more types.”
EVERY TIME I SEE MY PROJECT GROWING, I THANK GOD.FATIMA KHAYAT
Fatima’s grant of around £750 was one of around 350 made to budding entrepreneurs in Aleppo.
Her business has been so successful that she has recently started sending her produce to retailers in Damascus, Homs and Hama. She has also managed to employ five people.
“It’s a far cry from how life used to be," continued Fatima. "I feel happiness that I have never felt before.
“When my husband died – only God knows how we lived. I subscribed my children to an orphan charity and they paid us a little. We lived as if we were dead. But now, thank God, things got better and with God things will become better still.”
Caring for those in need
An estimated 2.7 million people have been injured in the Syrian conflict. Many hospitals have been damaged or destroyed in the fighting, meaning that people struggle to get the healthcare they need.
Nay el Hbous instead relies on supplies from the Syrian Arab Red Crescent to care for her daughter.
“I have a daughter with brain damage,” she said. “She can’t see, she can’t eat, talk, or walk. She always needs milk, diapers, medicine and of course medical treatment.
“She was just six months old when she got sick.”
Throughout the conflict, civilians have been subject to attacks, including the use of barrel bombs. There have also been widespread reports of chemical weapons attacks. Now resettled in Damascus, Nay is doing her best to support her daughter.
“I take her to the bathroom and bathe her. I don’t have the money to buy her [special] food so I chew her every bite and put it in her mouth.
“It is very hard because most days I don’t have money to buy her what she needs.”
“The diapers and detergent are the most important,” said Nay of the support she receives. “But of course there are a lot of other things like the wheelchair.
“I wish she gets treated. There is a treatment for her but outside Syria. If she got her treatment I know she would heal because she got better when she was younger. It all depends on how much I can help her and the medicine.”
Bad news brings more questions
Syria's children have been waking up scared for nine long years. Many are too young to remember their country before the conflict.
Yet glancing around the Bayada Community Centre in east Aleppo, you wouldn’t know it.
The children laugh as they sing nursery rhymes under the direction of a group of dedicated young volunteers from the Syrian Arab Red Crescent. The joyful atmosphere is a far cry from the destruction that reigns outside the safety of the centre’s walls.
Providing psychosocial support
24-year-old George has been volunteering in the centre since 2014.
“They have seen a lot of trauma,” said George. “Children come to us afraid. When they hear a noise they get scared. But we’re going to recover from it. “I hope they are really making a better future for our country. I see a lot of talent here – like drawing, singing, there are lots of talents.”
The centre, which is supported by the British Red Cross, was set up to provide psychosocial first aid to children.
Volunteers are trained to spot children who might need mental health or child protection services and refer them to a specialist for help. Across Syria, some 45,000 people benefited from psychosocial support projects funded by the British Red Cross in 2018.
Your support makes a huge difference
Supporting our Syria Crisis Appeal will help provide food, mattresses, blankets and vital services.
Together with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, we deliver emergency aid across front lines to reach people most in need. We will also work with our partners to reach Syrian refugees living in nearby countries.
Please support our Syria Crisis appeal.
The crisis in Syria
Our volunteers are delivering food, medicine and other essentials to people in need across Syria. If you’d like to hear more about how we’re helping there, click below to see where your donation could go.Donate