If you were bombed out of your home, what would you bring?

Published: Mar 13, 2022 Reading time: 3 minutes
If you were bombed out of your home, what would you bring?
© Omar Khattab

As people remain fixed to their phone screens following each and every passing event in Ukraine, another conflict blazes onwards quietly on the periphery: On 15th March, the Syrian conflict enters its 12th year. It is an anniversary with little fanfare; a reminder only of how conflict is never as quick, surgical and decisive a problem-solver as those who continue to argue for it believe. Just ask the over five million Syrians who remain displaced in their own country.

To mark this anniversary, our teams in northern Syria spoke to those who have now been away from their homes for a decade. So many of them assumed they would be back in no time, so they just brought the essentials. Others took it upon themselves in their very hardest moments to donate their belongings to others.

Looking at these objects today reveals both a great deal about how each individual imagines their future amidst the uncertainty of war.

Dibo: "We left everything behind. I only brought my crutches."

"I still have headaches when I think about those times," said Dibo, 45, holding his crutches to his chest. "I was arrested, and when I got out of prison, I was unable to walk, and I weighed only 30 kg.”

While Dibo, a father of five children had experienced more than his fair share of hardship prior to the conflict, the war changed everything for him and his family. Like millions of displaced people in Syria, they used to have a house and their whole lives in front of them.

"I got married when I was 30 years old. In 2007, we lived in our house, and I worked as a daily labourer. I used to have a good wage and there were many job opportunities," said Dibo.

Then the war arrived to Aleppo and the family had to make a choice.

I had to burn everything before we left. I just got a photo of my parents.

"In 2013, we had to flee our home. The situation was tragic. It was the hardest moment. We left everything behind, and I could only take these crutches. We did not have enough food or materials for heating. One of my daughters was born back then, and I remember she needed baby formula, but it was not available, and generally, living costs went up,” he said. 

Care and solicitude amid conflict

Dibo shows other things around him: "The things I have are charity from other people. We left the house with nothing, but my crutches are special for me. I got them from one person who was very special. I used a wooden stick to help me walk. When he saw me, he gave me these crutches. He passed away, but I will never forget him."

"I feel sorry about the belongings I left behind because most of them were gifts from my parents. I also left my photo album with photos from my wedding and my children. I wanted to take it with me, but my brother, who fled Aleppo before us, told me not to bring anything personal or private. I had to burn everything before we left. I just got a photo of my parents," Dibo said. He does not know if his home even exists now. He worries about his children's future without prospects, but he still hopes.

"I worry that conditions will get worse and I fear being displaced again. It is enough! We are tired and all we can do is just hope that everyone will go back home," he said.

Despite the lull in major offensives and changes of frontlines for the past several years, the humanitarian situation in Syria continues to worsen, mainly due to the dire state of the economy.

You can read all about this in the latest Humanitarian Needs Overview.

Autor: People in Need