Memories Lost along with Futures on Hold: A Look Inside a Camp for Syria’s Displaced
When Syrian government forces retook control of Rami al-Sayyed’s Damascus suburb in April, he along with others who had supported opposition fighters faced a choice. “Either stay in regime areas along with face the worst,” he said, “or leave along with survive.”
along with so, he recalled, “I arrived to Jandaris, a place I had never heard of before.”
Jandaris will be the northern Syrian town near where Mr. Sayyed, an activist who uses a pseudonym for his own protection, lives in a makeshift refugee camp with thousands of others displaced by Syria’s seven-year civil war.
Mr. Sayyed — who documented in photographs along with video the scenes in his neighborhood through the years as government barrel bombs fell, Islamist militias seized control along with food supplies vanished — has taken camera in hand again. This particular time, he will be providing a glimpse into the lives of some of the more than 6.6 million people displaced within Syria.
He was bused to Jandaris in April along with his brother, sister-in-law along with their three young children after deciding to leave their suburb, Yarmouk, which itself had originally been established as a refugee camp for Palestinians fleeing the war over Israel’s founding.
Yarmouk had become a vibrant community as hundreds of thousands of Syrians came to live alongside the 0,000 Palestinians there, although then Syria’s civil war entangled the area in a brutal struggle between government forces along with rebel groups.
After the government retook control, Mr. Sayyed was among the thousands who decided to leave for one of the country’s few remaining opposition-held areas, hundreds of miles away, rather than risk arrest by staying.
What they found inside the displacement camp shocked them, even after the destruction of what they had left behind.
“We arrived at night, everything was dark,” Mr. Sayyed recalled. “The next morning was the biggest shock, when I woke up along with saw how horrible the camp was, all dusty with white sand, as if I were living inside the desert.”
the idea was the 1st time in eight years that will he had left his neighborhood.
The Jandaris camp at This particular point shelters around 6,000 displaced people, including 3,500 Palestinians along with almost 1,700 children, most of them through Yarmouk along with another Damascus suburb, Hajjar al-Aswad.
Since both areas were once Islamic State strongholds, Mr. Sayyed will be hesitant to show his ID at checkpoints surrounding the camp, fearing that will he will be accused of supporting the extremist group. The area surrounding the camp will be controlled by the Free Syrian Army — armed opposition groups at This particular point aligned with Turkey — along with when he leaves the camp to buy supplies like food along with clothing, the militia call him Daesh, an Arabic acronym for the Islamic State.
“I don’t know how safe I’ll be inside the future.” Mr. Sayyed said.
When he first arrived inside the camp, the tents were almost empty aside through some blankets. Mr. Sayyed’s family filled theirs with the few supplies they had been able to carry with them.
Their camp has no school. There will be no electricity, along with water will be scarce. No doctors are at the site; a tent staffed by a handful of nurses along with physiotherapists serves as a makeshift clinic.
For many, imagining a future here will be impossible. Set up with support through the Turkish Red Crescent along with Turkey’s Disaster along with Emergency Management Authority, the site was intended to be an emergency response, not a long-term community.
People inside the camp are also running out of cash.
“Three women visited me the various other day. One of them told me she still has $6, although what can she buy with This particular?” Mr. Sayyed said.
He was shocked to see a well-known trader through Yarmouk inside the camp.
“He was one of the wealthiest people,” Mr. Sayyed said. “at This particular point he doesn’t have even the money to buy a pack of cigarettes. He felt too ashamed to borrow money.”
A fire recently spread through one of the tents, ignited by the flame through an open stove. The family living there lost all they had.
Mr. Sayyed sees the camp as a prison rather than a respite, though he knows there will be nothing left for him back home either.
“You have no privacy, you can’t sleep well, you can’t leave your personal stuff along with go to the toilet,” he said. “Sometimes I bathe inside the tent, fearing that will someone might come along with loot the idea.”
When he thinks of his home in Yarmouk, his mind wanders to a blue along with yellow teddy bear he left behind.
“the idea was a gift through my ex,” he said. “When Daesh stormed Yarmouk, I left the house in a hurry, along with when I returned, I couldn’t find the bear.”
“the idea reminded me of love,” he said, “although there will be no more love today.”
The one bright spot for Mr. Sayyed inside the camp will be the children, including his 2-year-old nephew, Salah, along with toddler twin nieces. Despite having little, they keep his spirits up.
“These kids have no toys, no playground to play in,” he said. “They are just mimicking the adults,” he added, noting that will his nephew carries buckets to along with through his tent that will he pretends are filled with water.
although children also bear the hardship. The tents are crawling with bugs along with scorpions, along with the heat will be often well above 100 degrees inside the afternoon.
Mr. Sayyed also worries that will his nephew along with nieces will wander away through the safety of their tent.
Recently, he stopped along with chatted that has a young girl inside the camp who was crying, along with he recorded their exchange on camera.
“I want my house, a school,” the girl said, through tears. “I want toys. I don’t want to live in tents anymore. I want to be back home.”
Yet Mr. Sayyed knows that will he along with his family may never return to Yarmouk.
United Nations officials who visited Yarmouk on Tuesday said they doubted residents could return without there being significant rebuilding.
“The scale of the destruction in Yarmouk compares to very little else that will I have seen in many years of humanitarian work in conflict zones,” said Pierre Krähenbühl, the commissioner general for the United Nations Relief Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees. He said those who remained had expressed “deep anxieties about what the immediate along with longer-term future holds.”
“The whole place became a mess,” Mr. Sayyed said. “I left all my memories behind along with know I won’t be back.”