The lives of all families are tragic

Earthquake victims in Syria are displaced between cars, tents and shelters

  • The destruction caused by the earthquake in buildings has displaced millions of Syrians. AFP

  • Survivors live inside their cars after being displaced by the earthquake. AFP


Since the earthquake destroyed her home in northwestern Syria, Suzanne al-Abdullah, a school, has been living with nine members of her family in a pickup truck in the same neighborhood, as their livelihoods, like millions of Syrians, have been narrowed by the disaster.

More than 40,5 people died in Turkey and Syria in the devastating earthquake that struck the two countries on February 3, which may have displaced some <>.<> million Syrians, according to the United Nations.

Al-Abdullah, 42, in the Turkish border town of Jindires, told AFP: "Living in the car is difficult, and we are two families of 10. We sleep while we are sitting."

The pickup truck owned by al-Abdullah's father-in-law has been turned into a home for his two sons and their families, with mattresses, blankets and mats on its roof. Inside it, seven children eat breakfast, while Al-Abdullah hangs a winter blanket in the roof of the truck that made it a swing for her baby.

"It's difficult, especially since I have a baby," she explains while wearing a coat over a green winter cloak and covering her head with a hat and scarf in the freezing cold, adding: "When we woke up this morning, his hand was very cold. I put it under the sun, to warm up."

"We want shelter, so they can help us for the young children."

On the street, where the truck is parked, no building survived the aftermath of the earthquake. White Helmets volunteers recovered more than 500 bodies from the rubble of buildings and homes, and rescued 830 others.

Jindires is one of the stricken cities and towns in Syria, and among the hardest hit by the earthquake, which has killed more than 3600,<> people across the country.

Five provinces have been hit mainly in Syria, most notably Idlib and Aleppo, which border Turkey. AFP correspondents in the affected areas saw buildings razed to the ground, families scattered in schools, mosques, squares, olive groves and even camps for displaced people who remained untouched by the aftermath.

Tragic life

Elsewhere in Jindires, retired employee Abdulrahman Haji Ahmed, 47, and his neighbors set up a tent in the middle of their demolished street, where children and women slept at night, while he and other men from the neighborhood stayed on the street.

"There is no electricity, no water, no cleanliness," he told AFP, with his demolished house behind him, from which a colorful mat and a winter cover lying on top of the rubble remained, explaining that the situation throughout the city is "tragic." "The lives of all families are tragic."

The dilapidated infrastructure, already due to the ongoing war in Syria for more than 10 years, including water, electricity and sewage, has been severely damaged in the areas hit by the earthquake, which are partly under the control of opposition factions to the Syrian regime in northern and northwestern Syria.

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) said immediate priorities included "access to safe drinking water and essential sanitation to prevent the spread of diseases" such as cholera, which has been spreading for months in the region.

Inside the tent, hastily built of sheets and blankets in an alley covered in rubble, with cracked walls still rising, Haji Ahmed cuddles his daughter. A number of children from the neighborhood sit next to him. He then goes out into the street, where neighbors gather and talk.

The man does not seem confident of what the coming days may hold. "Now we are not thinking about the future, because the situation we are living in does not allow us to think about the future," he says. "The future we want right now is one or two shader to put up two tents to house families. Then we see what we do, but that's what is needed now."

A tent to shelter us

The needs of the affected and affected areas appear enormous after the earthquake and the end of the search for survivors. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), securing "safe shelter is among the main needs in the aftermath of the earthquake." Kawthar al-Shaqi', 63, along with her daughter and grandchildren after being displaced by the quake, sought refuge in a makeshift shelter on the outskirts of Jindires.

The woman, who was previously displaced by the war from her hometown in the central city of Homs, told AFP: "We took refuge in the camp where we could find a tent to shelter us."

"We can't afford to buy a bottle of water or clothing. If we want to go to the city, we don't have transportation or money."

The descendants of the Shaqia sometimes sleep in the tent and have fun outside, taking advantage of the warm sunlight in a very cold atmosphere.

The giggle of children does not cool the heart of the grandmother who has etched time in the contours of her tired face. "The situation here is unbearable, and we don't know what to do with children. "Here we are sitting in the cold after about four days on the street." "We have nothing but the mercy of the Lord of the worlds."

• The needs of the affected and affected areas appear enormous after the earthquake and the end of the search for survivors. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), safe shelter is among the main needs in the aftermath of the disaster.