Middle East, News

Refugees in S. Syria struggle to perform Ramadan fast

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In Syria’s Daraa, the Ramadan fast is becoming increasingly difficult for refugees in sweltering heat.

In the latest chapter of suffering on the part of southern Syria’s burgeoning refugee population, hundreds of families huddle together in camps hastily set up outside the city of Daraa near the border with Jordan.

They were forced to flee Daraa because most of the city’s neighborhoods remain under the control of opposition forces, making the city a frequent target of artillery shelling by the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

An Anadolu Agency cameraman captured some of their plight as they fled to makeshift refugee camps that lack most basic necessities.

The month of Ramadan – during which Muslims are expected to abstain from food and drink from dawn till dusk – began only a few days ago. Yet fasting is becoming increasingly difficult for the refugees as they brave the sweltering summer heat.

Nevertheless, camp residents – both young and old – are determined to adhere to what they consider one of the most important obligations of their faith.

One elderly mother in the camp, Om Ahmed, told an Anadolu Agency correspondent that she and her fellow refugees were suffering acute shortages of aid – despite earlier promises by local relief organizations that their basic needs would be met.

These pledges – which remained unmet as of the filing of this report – had included promises to provide refugees with drinking water, iftar (Ramadan breakfast) meals and basic healthcare.

Om Ahmed lost both her husband and son in Syria’s ongoing civil conflict, which is now in its fifth year.

She now looks after her several children, all of whom live together in a small worn-out tent and who are often forced to walk long distances to collect firewood for cooking what little food is available.

Mohamed Abazeid, who works for a local food distribution agency in Daraa, told Anadolu Agency that his organization had been forced to scale down the distribution of food to refugees – especially those who had only arrived at the beginning of Ramadan.

He cited intensified shelling of opposition-held areas of Daraa over the past few days by regime forces, which often use deadly “barrel bombs” – improvised containers typically packed with shrapnel and explosives.

Abazeid also lamented the fact that refugees were not all concentrated in a single place, making it more difficult to provide them with food and water.

His agency, he added, was also unable to meet all the refugees’ needs due to the lack of relief provisions and because of Jordan’s ongoing closure of its borders to relief organizations.

The refugees’ plight comes amid reports that opposition forces intend to launch an offensive aimed at taking the entire city of Daraa – along with surrounding areas – following recent successes by opposition groups on the outskirts of the southern province.

Resource: Anadolu Agency, June 24, 2015

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