Published on 15 March 2021
This week marks a grim milestone in Syria: after a decade of devastating conflict, millions of people are still displaced and in some parts of the country, indiscriminate attacks on civilians continue.
The Syrian conflict, which began in March 2011, has triggered the biggest displacement crisis of this century, with 5.6 million Syrians now refugees in neighbouring countries. Inside Syria, 6.2 million people have been displaced by the conflict, over 80% of people are living in poverty, and food insecurity levels are at a record high. The COVID-19 pandemic is exacerbating the suffering of Syrians both within and beyond the country’s borders.
Some 2.7 million displaced people now live in Northwest Syria, many in crowded camps. The majority depend on humanitarian aid to meet basic needs, but aid agencies’ access is increasingly threatened, and after 10 years, some donors are showing signs of fatigue just when the needs are highest.
A new photo-journalism project is helping young people in Northwest Syria, who have been living through the conflict for almost half their lives, to deal with trauma and express their hopes for the future. Photography allows them to catalogue what they see every day and express themselves in a safe environment. Here are some of their stories and their words.
Haya is 20 years old and volunteers to teach children in a camp for displaced people in Northwest Syria. After finishing school, her dream was to go to university, but the war prevented her.
‘At that time, I felt darkness everywhere around me, as if my life had ended.’
Ahmad is 28 years old and a surgeon’s assistant in a hospital.
‘My detention in the prisons of Assad regime was a turning point in my life. After the outbreak of the Syrian revolution, I refused to emigrate. Instead I chose to stay with my people, who were in need of help.’
Ahmed, 22, was forced to flee when his hometown was attacked by Syrian government forces and allies during February 2020. He is currently completing his studies at university after having to stop for two years due to the security situation.