For most of us, the end of the year is a time to celebrate all the things we have which make us happy. For those suffering the impact of war and disaster, the mood is much more melancholy. Particularly for those whose rights have been stripped away, to the point where they have to flee their own country.
Today, on Human Rights Day, Ali and his family have no permanent shelter, no running water, not enough food, and barely any healthcare for his injured daughter Yara and pregnant wife Merdin*.
When fighting broke out in Ali’s hometown in Syria, he, his wife and two year old daughter escaped with nothing more than their lives. It was during their escape, whilst sheltering with friends, that Yara was scolded by boiling water – spilled when a gas burner was knocked over in the cramped space they were all sheltering in.
“It burnt one of her legs from top to bottom,” Ali said. “She is in pain and cries a lot.”
The family then had to make the perilous journey across the border to safety in Iraq, where they now live as refugees in a makeshift camp.
“It is safe here,” Ali said, of their temporary home. “But conditions are unhygienic and we cannot find basic things like milk or diapers for my daughter. There is no water in the toilets and barely any medical treatment. I cannot get burn medication for Yara … there is nothing they can do for her here,” he says.
His wife Merdin – eight months pregnant – is worried about what will happen when she gives birth:
“My first daughter was a cesarean delivery and they told me that my second will be the same,” she explains. But the facilities in the camp are inadequate to deal with that kind of procedure. “There are no deliveries here…”
On top of these problems, this will be the family’s first winter away from home, a fact that is settling in quickly as the weather gets colder and their only shelter is a tent.
“We are worried about the upcoming winter,” Ali said. “Heavy rain and thunderstorms are common here … our tent will flood with water no doubt.”
Before the war, Ali and Medlin had happy lives; now they have so little. And sadly their story is not unique. Millions of people have fled violence in Syria and now live with next to nothing just like Ali and his family.
You can help make a difference to families who have had their rights taken from them by giving a CAREgift. As you consider gifts for your own family, please spare a thought for what you can do for families like Ali’s. A small gift can make a lifesaving difference.
*All names have been changed to protect privacy.