As the Syrian war enters its eighth year, civilians are continuing to bear the brunt of the ongoing humanitarian disaster, international aid organisation CARE has warned.
CARE’s Syria Country Director Wouter Schaap said civilians were not just collateral damage of the war but were also being targeted.
“The Syrian people feel their lives have been destroyed and that the whole world has abandoned them,” he said.
“For millions of families, the past seven years have meant losing their homes and constantly moving from one place to another in search of safety, sometimes beyond Syria’s borders. And when will they be able to go back? No one can say.”
Mr Schaap said the war had made women in Syria particularly vulnerable.
“There’s been some progress with women’s rights in the Middle East in the past seven years,” he said.
“But in Syria? Women have slipped further into poverty, violence and lawlessness. Yet, they show courage every single day when they strive to keep their loved ones safe and alive.”
Dr Maria Alabdeh, Executive Director of Women Now for Development, a local Syrian organisation supported by CARE, said many women faced the added economic pressure of having to provide for their families after losing husbands, brothers and sons to the conflict.
“We are working with women who’re increasingly assuming both the role of breadwinner and caregiver,” she said.
“They’ve been forced into shelters and bunkers. At the same time, they’ve taken on this new responsibility and need the proper support.”
Seven years of fighting have forced a quarter of the country’s pre-war population to leave. More than a million people have been displaced. An average of 100 people have been killed every day. Hundreds of thousands of people are living under siege in places like Eastern Ghouta, where – just a few miles from the capital Damascus – entire families go without food and clean water.
CARE Australia is an international humanitarian aid organisation fighting poverty, with a special focus on working with women and girls to bring lasting change to their communities. CARE has been providing aid in Syria since 2014, and has reached more than 2.7 million people so far. www.care.org.au/syria
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