"People are desperate, many have been fleeing for months. Already during the last big offensive in late summer there was not enough housing for everyone. Even now in winter, families are living under trees by the roadside and more and more new refugees are arriving", says Wael Khedr, our project manager for emergency aid in Syria.
Drinking water, bread and shelter
Since 2012 arche noVa is active in the regions around Idlib and Aleppo. With the distribution of water, bread, food and hygiene packages the Syrian colleagues try to alleviate the worst misery of their fellow countrymen. And they themselves are often directly affected by the fighting.
Gallery: Current pictures of our activities in Syria
" Of our team consisting of 25, 15 have had to flee on their own in recent weeks. Not all of them were able to rent an apartment, some had to find makeshift accommodation with relatives or acquaintances", says Wael Khedr.
arche noVa office temporarily evacuated
After all, the worst threat from the approaching government troops is over for now, the evacuated office is open again and the humanitarian aid workers are all back in action. After all, the need is great. The people are lacking everything.
"Actually, we have always planned the distribution of relief supplies systematically and on a monthly basis, but at the moment, in consultation with the representatives of the informal camps and the representatives of the host communities, we distribute as much as possible, mostly at short notice, to new arrivals and to the most needy among them, including single women, families with more than five children or with sick family members," says Wael Khedr. 11,500 families are currently being supplied with food and water. 2,700 children receive warm underwear, caps, scarves and thick jackets.
The children suffer the most. They often don't even understand what is happening, have lost everything. Again and again we also see families that are led by underage heads of families who have to bear the responsibility for the whole family at such a young age. Here we try to support directly.
In addition to the distribution of food, an important focus of our work in the refugee areas north of Idlib and south of the border to Turkey is the makeshift renovation of half-finished or partially destroyed residential buildings to offer the refugees protection from cold and rain. So far, we have already been able to make makeshift repairs to about 150 dwellings, 60 more will follow, where we are currently installing windows and doors and repairing sanitary facilities. Originally, one apartment was intended for one family at a time, but at the moment in a time of need at least three families move into each completed apartment. "We can only hope that the people will then be able to stay here and will not have to flee again," said Wael Khedr. The concern is justified, because Assad's troops are constantly moving closer, destroying residential buildings, schools, hospitals.
"But as long as it is possible, we are trying to help. That's all we can do," underlines Wael Khedr.