This week, the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) launched its Syria Crisis Appeal. The DEC is made up of 14 charities, including Oxfam, and it makes the decision to pool the fundraising efforts of these charities and launch an appeal if the scale and severity of an emergency demands it. Oxfam’s own appeal has already raised £1.23 million but much more is needed. Here, Lucy Brinicombe tells us what it’s like for Syrian families that have had to leave their homes to cross the
border into Jordan.
The figures are small at first as they appear from the tragedy behind them. They move slowly, and quietly as they trickle towards us. Old women heave their world’s possessions in large bags; children drag containers almost bigger than themselves.
As the sun sets, Jordan’s newest refugees from Syria remain calm and dignified, despite what they have endured. Many have walked for hours – days even – to escape the escalating crisis. They talk of “constant” bombings and missiles damaging everything that they once knew. Many have lived in ruins , food is short, families have been separated, and loved ones lost.
“Look at this. Look at this”, a young women with her father demands passionately, pushing her phone in front of me. There in front of me is a photo of a five month old baby. “This is my niece, but her father never saw her because he was killed before she was born”. They were too frightened to give their names. It was important, they told me, that people knew though.
Three thousand people just like them cross the border into Jordan every day. Some are wounded, sometimes by bullets and shrapnel, and are seen by waiting doctors. An elderly man was being treated for a heart attack when we arrived. On occasions, they don’t survive. Those that do are fed, given drinks and space to sit and sleep in a large tent before taking the bus to the refugee camp.
Most of the people are shells. They have had their lives battered out of them but their hearts continue to beat. Eyes are empty, their skin grey from the lack of sleep. Children cling onto the skirts of their mothers or reach out for the comfort of their father as they adjust to the new surroundings.
Holding his son’s hand, a man calmly tells me how he was forced to leave his wife and four-year-old daughter in Syria. I don’t need a translator to feel the sadness of his words. They were separated when bombings struck their neighbourhood, and blockades have meant he has not seen them since. “Every day they chose a certain area to drop rockets to kill everyone”, he tells us quietly.
Regardless, there is an air of relief as people wait for their turn to be taken to the camp. They have made it; they have escaped. They don’t seem to know that this is only the end to a chapter, and that their strength and resolve will be sorely tested as they continue their tale of survival.