More than a month after devastating earthquakes hit Syria and Türkiye, millions of people remain in need of essential life-saving support. Even with humanitarian efforts and inter-agency coordination in place, there is still a lot to be done. Following a long established presence in the country, including during the last 12 years of crisis, UNHCR Syria staff understand the needs of affected people and share their pain. That is why Ahmed and other colleagues in Damascus initiated the project to deliver additional support to those recently affected by the earthquakes.
Since the onset of the emergency, UNHCR and other organizations have started providing emergency relief support to people affected by the earthquakes. However, emergency relief efforts after the earthquakes are still in the early stages.
The deadly earthquakes have damaged buildings, schools, and infrastructure and caused disruption and loss of livelihoods, becoming the final straw for millions of Syrians and deepening their vulnerabilities. The financial situation of many families had been drastically reduced or lost. These factors are a few of the many stressors that created considerable distress among the affected people.
Ahmed and his colleagues were deeply touched to see the scenes of mass destruction and the huge suffering among Syrian people. They started to ask themselves how they could help affected people, beyond their work as UNHCR staff. In that moment, Ahmed came up with an idea. “I felt that I had to do something, even if it was a small thing.”, he said.
“Before the earthquakes, we used to say that nothing worse than what we experienced during the Syria crisis could happen in our country. Then, the earthquakes hit our country. We all witnessed the impact and share the pain of those who have lost everything.” says Ahmed.
As Senior Community-Based Protection Assistant with UNHCR, Ahmed already had a deep expertise regarding the value of community-led initiatives. He adds, “We thought of mobilizing the community to support them.. We collected clothes-, and other items that could be offered to those affected by the earthquakes.” Over the course of two days, Ahmed and his colleagues collected the items, placed them into boxes, and dispatched those to affected people in Aleppo, Hama and Latakia. In addition, DHL express – one of the partners supporting UNHCR efforts across the globe – offered free of charge transportation of the boxes to these affected governorates.
“We initially expected to collect 10 to 12 boxes. Thanks to God and the eagerness of my colleagues, in two days we were able to collect more than 46 boxes.” Ahmed says.
In the first few days after the earthquakes, Ahmed was feeling helpless, but now, he is proud and satisfied. “We will continue with this initiative. Our colleagues in Lebanon and other Syrian governorates also heard about the initiative and they will contribute as well.”