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Haya learns to use a camera as part of the ‘My Syria’

(OPC/Christian Aid)

My Syria

Syria's Past, Present and Future through a Lens

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 volunteering in a camp in NW Syria

Haya volunteering in the camp (Christian Aid/OPC)

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.’

Haya's image of a camp in NW Syria

‘Under the roof of each of these tents - which do not protect from either the cold or the heat of the sun - there is a family that has been burdened by worries and pain, but still lives with the hope of returning home one day.’

Haya's image of the corona quarantine tent in NW Syria

‘Too many people entered this place to quarantine after being infected with Coronavirus! Some of them died after they struggled with the disease, and others survived to tell us the story of their suffering.’

Haya's hands in a heart for Syria surrounding the sun

‘My love, Syria, you are the mother of heroes and martyrs. Stand up in the face of injustice and suffering, and never give up. You have my love and prayers.’

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.’

Ahmad practising taking photos as part of ‘My Syria’ photo project

Ahmad practising as part of the ‘My Syria’ photo project (Christian Aid/OPC)

A mural on corona virus prevention in NW Syria.

‘An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure. That has been the motto of our volunteer Target Team working to raise awareness of COVID-19. This is one of the murals from our campaigns to educate people about Coronavirus in north-western Syria'.

Camps in NW Syria

‘Life in Syria is a big prison, dark, ugly, full of poverty and exhaustion. This is one of the camps for displaced people that I see on my way to my work. I photograph it so that it remains a story for our future children and grandchildren'.

A tree in NW Syria that Ahmad likes to sit under and reflect on his life in his hometown.

‘When away from work at the hospital, I sit under this tree, which reminds me of resilience and survival. With my eyes to the horizon, I remember my life at home, the olive groves and lemon trees. Like the olive trees, we will remain steadfast and persist

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.

Ahmed

Ahmed (Christian Aid/OPC)

‘My town after it was retaken by opposition forces in late February 2020, showing the extent of the destruction and devastation caused by the regime offensive.’

‘My town after it was retaken by opposition forces in late February 2020, showing the extent of the destruction and devastation caused by the regime offensive.’

‘A doctor in a quarantine centre, showing how tired he is after a long shift caring for Coronavirus patients. My thanks go out to all the doctors in the world standing as the first line of defence during this pandemic.’

‘A doctor in a quarantine centre, showing how tired he is after a long shift caring for Coronavirus patients. My thanks go out to all the doctors in the world standing as the first line of defence during this pandemic.’

‘For your sake, mother, we refused to cry, and we will rebuild Syria. Please, mother, don’t cry. Your children are stronger now, mother, Syria, and will not surrender.’

‘For your sake, mother, we refused to cry, and we will rebuild Syria. Please, mother, don’t cry. Your children are stronger now, mother, Syria, and will persist.’

Find out more about Christian Aid’s EU funded work in Syria

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