Every day across the world, ordinary people are being dragged into wars that are not of their making. They are #NotATarget – but when they’re running for their lives as bricks and bullets cascade around them – it feels like they are.
This #WorldHumanitarianDay, on 19th August, Islamic Relief is advocating for civilians trapped in war zones; for mothers that have held their dying children in their arms, children who dream of going to school, and doctors who struggle to save lives with insufficient resources, these are the people that are affected, and they need our help and protection.
Ahmed Ghandoor (39), Hospital Director and General Surgeon, Idlib “It’s unbelievable to think that hospitals and doctors have themselves become a target, in order to kill as many civilians as possible. My brother was arrested because I am working as a doctor in a field hospital in the opposition controlled area. In this very hospital, a laboratory technician was killed in a bomb attack and eight staff members were injured. Due to the level of need, I work about 12-16 hours a day, perform about six-eight major operations and see about 40-50 patients. It can be exhausting. Rola Rashwani (eight), was badly injured when her village was shelled by the Syrian regime. Her bladder, colon, bowels, ovaries and ureter were all ruptured and I carried out a lengthy operation. Alhamdulillah, she is fine now. When I save children’s lives and make them smile and bring happiness to the hearts of their mothers and other loved ones, it makes me happy. It’s virtually my only happiness.”
Maher Shaar, Aid Worker, Syria “Every morning I am facing a humanitarian mission more difficult than the previous day as the situation deteriorates and the Syrian crisis becomes more complicated. In my second month with Islamic Relief, I had to deliver medical aid to hospitals in the countryside. When we reached the area we heard the sound of bombing and I started to worry. We did not have enough time and had to move as quickly as possible to deliver the medical aid to hospitals. Delivering the aid under jetfighters and amid the sounds of nearby explosions was terrifying. I asked myself a question: Should we continue or move back? It was the first time I have felt so close to death.”
Maryam Ali (10) , Syria “I am Maryam, I am 10 years-old and I am from the eastern Aleppo countryside. I live with my mother. My father and brother died during an air raid. After their death, whenever we saw planes flying in the sky and passing over our region, I used to run and hide under my mum to block out the noise. Now, I am living in a tent on the Turkish bor-der. It does not protect us from the intense summer heat, or from the bitter winter cold. When it rains, water leaks inside. You can’t ignore the sound of planes from inside these tents.”
Sabha Salih Yaseen (35), Mosul Single mother Sabha Salih Yaseen lives with her two sons in West Mosul, Iraq. When their house was destroyed by a bomb that landed nearby, Sabha and her sister and children ran for their lives with severe injuries, petrified that they would be killed at any moment. “We didn’t eat anything for 10 days and fell into an extreme despair. One of my boys just stopped talking because of the trauma. I often have nightmares now. Life has very little meaning for us anymore.”
Salem Jaafar Baobaid, Project Coordinator – Emergency Food Assistance, Islamic Relief Yemen I have been working as an aid worker for Islamic Relief in Yemen since 2010. In mid-2015, our neighbourhood was bombed and became a ghost town overnight. My wife lost her ability to speak and remained that way for almost a week. Within a year we were forced to move four times in an attempt to find somewhere safe to live, but as the bombings became more and more frequent and widespread, this became impossible. My children were traumatised and my wife’s health dramatically worsened during this time. Her illness could have been cured with 18 months of continuous medical treatment but the drugs were not always available. Doctors said she also needed rest and no stress, but how could she live a stress-free existence in the reality that was our life? She suffered for two years and then passed away. She was a loving wife, mother and everything to me. Her death has left a deep grief in my heart that will be there for the rest of my life.
Um Osama, Hama, Syria “The military aircraft was above us. We heard noises of explosive barrels and rockets that were falling everywhere around us. I grabbed my children and went to a rural area near the outskirts of the village, searching for a place where I could guarantee their safety. As soon as we sat under one of the olive trees an aircraft bombed the area with cluster bombs. My daughter screamed a scream that made my heart stop. Then her body went limp in my arms and she was gone.”
Yaman (12), Aleppo “Last year, while we were at home, an explosion shook the ground and the ceiling and bricks started falling on me and my family. We couldn’t find my little sister; she was buried under the rubble. I didn’t want to lose her like I lost my father, who was killed by a sniper on his way home from work. The rescuers managed to dig her out and she was in a critical condition for a long time. Our house is now destroyed and all our happy memories are lost under it. I really wish my dad could come back and my home could still be here. I want to carry on my education so that I can become an engineer and rebuild my house, my school and my country.”