Shirin Yaseen from Office of the Spokesperson for the UN Secretary General traveled to northwestern Syria as part of an interagency mission to assess the situation there.
“The day we visited Jindairis in northern Syria, one of the areas most affected by the earthquake in February, the weather conditions were very bad. A mobile medical clinic set up in a tent was lifted off the ground by strong winds which scattered medical supplies and instruments.
The dreams of the children in this camp are simple. One told me she needed glasses, another decent shoes to be able to walk on the unpaved roads of the camp. A young girl, Ahlam, told me that all she wanted was to go back to school. A mother requested a wheelchair for her 20-year-old daughter.
In another camp, in Idleb, called Kammonah, I met Yazi Khaled Al-Abdullah whose suffering mirrors the experience of hundreds of thousands of people left homeless by the earthquake.
She told me that at four in the morning she felt shaky but didn’t know what was going on. Her children told her not to be afraid and after they all left their house, it collapsed. It was raining and they were shivering with cold, but they didn’t know what to do or where to go.
They ended up at Kammonah camp and were advised to register at a shelter. A month after the earthquake, they are still living in a tent with two other families.
Yazi Khaled Al-Abdullah told me she loves to cook but she doesn’t have pans or a gas stove. Sometimes prepared foods, usually rice, are provided, but she has diabetes so she doesn’t get the nutrition she needs.
She and her family are desperate to return home, even if it means living a very basic life. She used an Arabic expression that says that even if they only have dirt to eat, they still want to go back to their hometown.
Her family left Sinjar eight years ago because of the war in Syria and spent time here and there. She told me that her son and her husband were working their land and herding sheep when they were killed by a plane. In his words, they became martyrs.
I also met Mazyad Abdul Majeed Al-Zayed, who runs the Ajnadayn camp in Jindairis and who himself was a victim of the earthquake.
He explained the difficult conditions in which the residents of the camp live, due to a shortage of everything, including tents. Mobile clinics operate in the area, but they lack medicines and only come sporadically.
He said the camp is miserable and he did not bring his family here as he could not bear to see them live in such conditions.
Later, I visited tents set up opposite Al-Rafa Specialty Hospital in Jindairis, which housed mobile clinics, including one for children and one for women.
Patients and visitors are received daily in these clinics, which were created a few days after the earthquake.
The hospital is surrounded by destroyed buildings and the medical staff live and work in the same conditions as the people they care for.
The medical system in this part of Syria was already overloaded before the earthquake, and now the medical staff are exhausted and the equipment is almost completely broken.
Countless people affected by the earthquake have sought refuge in this region of northwestern Syria. Many did it to escape the war that has been raging for 12 years now.
One woman I spoke to said she had no idea what her future held after she fled Saraqib for five years in Afrin, which was bombed, and then in Jindairis.
I met and spoke to so many people, including unaccompanied young children who had been separated from their parents, whose lives had been turned upside down by the war and then the earthquake.
But I also met people who had hope and optimism for a better future. I met diligent and caring humanitarian workers who are partners of the UN and who try every day to improve the lives of those affected.
Meanwhile, the UN launched a $400 million humanitarian appealand continues to work with partners to ensure relief reaches the most vulnerable.
find more here on the work of the UN in Syria.