Abu Mohamed at a public shelter in Homs where WFP food is served. Copyright: WFP/Abeer Etefa
Over 1.2 million people are displaced inside Syria and some 250,000 people have fled the country and became refugees in neighbouring countries. Many of them left their homes, lives and had to flee with their families with only the clothes that they were wearing.
HOMS - Syria’s ongoing fighting has forced millions of people to flee their villages and homes in search of safety. Five months ago Abu Mohamed left war-torn Al-Khalidiyeh in Homs’ old city where he was working as a taxi driver after being trapped at home with his family in the middle of the crossfire. A lull in fighting allowed him to run with his wife, three children and 80-year-old mother and take refuge in a public shelter in a safe area in Homs.
“We fled under the shelling with both sides firing from every direction,” said Abu Mohamed. “I have not been able to go back to my home and see if it is still standing or not but life is more important than property and here we are safe.”
The public shelter housing Abu Mohamed and his family is one of 22 shelters for families displaced by the conflict in Homs city. There, volunteers from Al Birr Association prepare daily hot meals for the 1,200 people who have taken refuge in this shelter using WFP’s dry rations.
WFP is providing assistance this month to over 200,000 people in Homs mainly internally displaced people, or people in areas affected by the fighting as part of WFP’s emergency operation in Syria to feed 1.5 million people.
Getting ready to have his lunch, Abu Mohamed looks at the food and thanks the volunteers who cook and serve the meals. “It is tasty but there is nothing like home and nothing like preparing one’s own food,” said Abu Mohamed. “My wife is suffering but she keeps it all to herself except for a few words – let’s go back home.”
In addition to its partnership with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, WFP has started a new partnership with the Bir Association in July to reach the internally displaced people in different parts of the governorate with food assistance.
“There are 70,000 displaced families in Homs city and its rural areas. The majority of them are staying with host families or jointly renting homes with our families,” explains the head of the SARC Homs branch, Shu’aib Sha’ban. “WFP’s food assistance is an important relief to these families who have been uprooted from their homes and lost their livelihoods.”