Supported by the European Union, INTERSOS assists families who have been living for years with no access to basic services and in extreme need conditions
Thanks to European Union funding, since mid-2020 INTERSOS has been carrying out protection interventions for the most vulnerable people in Syria, particularly in the governorates of Hama and Rural Damascus, in partnership with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC). Through static and mobile approach, INTERSOS is outreaching hard to reach and rural areas lacking the most basic services: in the locations of Kernaz, Suruj, Zamalka and Beit Sawa together with SARC we established four “Protection Centres” welcoming the served communities with a range of daily services.
Zamalka and Beit Sawa, located in Easter Ghouta, have been strongly affected by the conflict: houses and infrastructures have been damaged and are still not accessible. Primary services, such as health, education, community services are lacking or non-existent. In Kernaz, located in the northern part of Hama governorate, the population before the crisis was around 23,000 individuals, while currently the number of returnees people is around 13,000 individuals: families from the area have been displaced several times between 2012 and 2019. Suruj is located in northern–eastern Hama: out of an original population of about 7,700 people, about 5,700 (75%) returned to the area after displacing while 25% of the original population has not returned yet. Most of the families live on farming despite being the lands not yet completely cleared by unexploded ordnances.
The consequences of unexploded ordnance
As reported by one of the people we assist at the INTERSOS Protection Centre in Suruj, the presence of unexploded devices remains the main risk in the area. Children, to support their families’ income, collect material from the streets and from the lands and are strongly exposed to incidents which still occur. About 28% of the population is reported to have a disability in Syria against a global average of 15%. In the targeted areas people are living in a very dire economic situation. Boys and girls dropout from school to support their families farming, a number of children show signs of distress such as violent behaviors and several women are female heads of households with no or limited source of income.
Together with SARC and thanks to the support of the European Union, to date we have assisted 6,000 boys, girls, women and men to improve their psycho-social well-being and resilience. We provide awareness raising on different topics, such as mine risk education, the risks of child labor and early marriage as the risks of school dropout. Boys and girls are regularly engaged through recreational activities and Structured Psycho- social support also targeting women and men. The most vulnerable individuals are supported through case management – individual counselling and where a specific need is identified beneficiaries are provided with in- kind assistance. The communities’ resilience and self-reliance is enhanced through their active engagement in identifying the main risks present in their communities and proposing initiatives to prevent/mitigate them.