EMDEM YILMAZ / Azez – Photo: Can Erk – Millions of people have fled the war in Syria for years. Most of those who remain in the country are trying to survive in camps near the border. We visited many tent cities in the Aziz countryside of Aleppo, the scene we saw was awful. We visited the Syrian tent city on the same date in 2018 and we saw that there has been no positive change in these tent cities in the last 4 years. Mainly women and children live in tents of 8-10 square meters below. The biggest problem in these tents, where an average of 6 people live, is hygiene. Each tent we visited had a heavy odor. Although it was May, the tents were very hot. The biggest problem for those who live in tents is that the tents are very hot in summer and very cold in winter. The Syrians say the rains have turned the area where they were staying into a muddy sea and flooded the tents.
Women don’t want to
On the other hand, we have learned that tent dwellers have no source of income. They make their living from food parcels delivered by aid agencies. But still there are at least 7-8 children in each family. Thousands of Syrian children have opened their eyes to the world by sitting in tents in the shadow of war. These children who started life in tents never saw the home environment. These children growing up in unhealthy environment are far from education. In the families we’ve talked to, most men consider having more children as maintenance, while women say they don’t want too many children. However, most men and women are not aware of the method of contraception.
6 people in 1 tent
Yunus Ihu Ehsih, 40, a 6-year-old father who said he came to the Azez tent 2.5 years ago from Idlib, lives with his wife and children in a tent about 7 square meters. Ehshih said his house was bombed after the war started and said, “After the bombing of our house, we were in the tent city of Idlib for a while and then we came here. It is hard to stay in the tent, it is very cold in winter, “We want a house too,” he said. “His wife, Neva Abdurrajak Vahap, 33, said he and his wife did not want any more children and they did not want their last child.” What not, he said, many women and men do not know.
‘She Is Saved’
Sufi Shabani Elrashit, 35, said she had been living in a tent with her three children for 12 years. “We had a house before the war, we didn’t have any problems,” said Elrashit, who lost her husband in an airstrike five years ago. War has robbed us of everything. Living in a tent is very difficult, the help given is not enough. We have no home to return to. Those who have left have saved his life. There is no solution here either, the war does not seem to end, ”he said.
‘He who leaves does not return easily’
Ismail Ibrahim (57), our translator in Syria, has been responsible for distributing aid in all the tent cities of Azaz for years. Noting that he had control of almost all the tent cities in the region, Ibrahim said that those who left Syria would not return to Syria easily, adding: “There are still some people who go to Turkey illegally from the region. The problem here is not just the house. Even if the house is built somehow, what will you do here, how will you make a living? The real problem is livelihood. Especially those who have settled in Turkey and set up businesses do not return. I have a house here. However, my 3 children are in different places in Turkey and they are not planning to come. Because there is no job. Also, life here is very expensive. The price of a box of eggs is the same here in Turkey. But the salary here is very low. The maximum salary of a teacher is 1,100 TL. “
‘Many children abducted’
Fatma Mahmoud Elgarif, 29, a mother of three who said she was not safe in the tent, said: “I lost my wife in 2014. My youngest child did not see his father, I was pregnant when my wife died. We had 3 + 1 houses before the war, they were destroyed. We have nothing left, now we are here. My biggest fear is my child. There are many kidnappings here. The last time a 5-year-old girl went missing was a month before Eid-ul-Fitr.
‘I have no hope’
“We all had homes before the war,” said Nusebe Mahmut Damen, 30, a mother of four who said she had no hope the war would end. Now that we are in the tent, we are constantly going here and there. We have no fixed place to stay. In winter we could not sleep because of the cold. The tents burned down here last winter and the children died. We also want a warm room where we can keep our heads, ”he said.
Tomorrow: ‘We didn’t want to be second wives’