Displaced by War, Syrians Endure Poor Living Conditions in Shelters

Like millions of others caught up in Syria’s brutal conflict, Ayyoush a 72-year-old Syrian displaced woman wants to go back home

Ayyoush, a mother of two girls and two boys. She fled the country, she paid a very dear price in this crisis, and she lost one of her boys, while the other stays with her at Jibreen collective shelter in Aleppo.

With around half of Syria’s pre-war population of 22 million forcibly displaced either inside or outside of the country, the six-year conflict has put more pressure on many communities whose living conditions are already critically strained.

In 2012, Ayyoush initially moved from her house in Tal Rahaal village in eastern rural Aleppo and stayed in Jabal Badro neighbourhoud located in the same parts of the city in search for safety.

“No one likes to leave home or lose property” Ayyoush said.

Due to the evacuation process from eastern parts of Aleppo city that took place end of 2016, Ayyoush had to leave again with thousands of displaced families to reach safety at Jibreen collective shelter.


The Jibreen shelter and the unfurnished hangars in Al-Mahalej near the industrial zone had been converted into temporary accommodation to receive the influx of displaced families from east Aleppo in mid-December 2016. At that time, UNHCR with other partners made good progress installing shelter kits with wooden partitioning to allow the families to have privacy and dignity while staying at this collective shelter.

Behind the scenes, Ayyoush spends most of her day in front of her room’s door at the shelter until the sun sets, she has nothing to do but just to wait for another day that might be better than today.

The old woman who suffers from disease: cardiovascular, high blood pressure, and lack of nutrition. She depends totally on the aid she receives from humanitarian agencies here.

Nevertheless, Ayyoush’s experience is now common to thousands of Syrians who had made their hard choice and fled from the hot spots across the country to only find harsh living conditions in these shelters, where chronic problems with electricity and water compounded the hardship of their living.

The continued influx of displaced population has increased the number of people seeking shelters which were initially not well-equipped with sanitation and hygiene facilities to receive the large numbers of people, though they are being improved.

According to 2017 Humanitarian Needs Overview, around 4.3 million people, (30% of the estimated 13.5 million total people in need of humanitarian support in 2017) are desperate to receive adequate shelter support as they continue to struggle in an unsafe and uncertain environment. As the hardships for displaced Syrians increase, the shelter sector aims to target 742,000 people in need of Shelter in Syria (19% of the estimated 4.0 million people in need of shelter in 2017). Since January 2017, UNHCR with 25 active shelter partners have implemented 66 shelter projects.

The humanitarian community has been challenged to provide emergency and life-saving shelter solutions while building back community cohesion and resilience. As a first stage to help returnees in east Aleppo, UNHCR with shelter partners identified 10 priority neighborhoods in Aleppo City for shelter rehabilitation. These neighborhoods include Az-Ziebdiyeh, Al-Ansari Mashhad, Al-Sakhour, Ashrafiyeh, Bustan Al-Qaser, Kallaseh,Khaldiyeh, Midan, Qadi Askar, and Saif Ad-Dawlah.

For now, Ayyoush hopes to return to her house in east Aleppo, although she does not have enough money even to move outside the shelter,

“I hope that time can go back and I can live in my house again with my family”, she said.