JEDDAH: AFSHAN AZIZ
Published — Monday 9 June 2014
The Syrian war has created one of the biggest refugee crises in modern history, with experts calling it the worst humanitarian situation in a generation. An estimated 9 million Syrians have fled their homes since the outbreak of the war in March 2011, taking refuge in neighboring countries or relocating to other areas within Syria, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
The majority of the Syrian refugees have fled to neighboring countries, while some ended up in more distant countries, including the Kingdom.
Regda Al-Aziz is one of the Syrian women who escaped the violence in her hometown Aleppo and found shelter in Jeddah. She managed to cross the border with two of her children, but had to leave two others behind due to the intensity of the fighting. Al-Aziz recounted to Arab News that she lead a simple life with her family before the violence broke out, changing her life drastically. She said she escaped from the fighting and carnage with nothing but the clothes on her back, leaving everything she owned behind.
Hudood is another Syrian woman who left Syria with her six children and eventually arrived in Jeddah. “I decided to flee in order to protect my family after my husband disappeared. My family and I searched in vain for him, when we lost hope we decided it was safer to leave the country,” she explained.
Al-Aziz and Hudood managed to find modest apartments in Jeddah, however the high rental fees have made it difficult for them to make ends meet.
They approached charitable organizations for help and have been provided with some assistance from local donors and the International Islamic Relief Organization, Saudi Arabia (IIROSA), which covered the rent fees and assisted them in buying furniture.
IIROSA has provided help for Syrian refugees seeking shelter in Saudi Arabia, with the support of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah.
Many philanthropists and Saudi donors have also extended a helping hand to Syrian families, providing them with a source of income and supporting their small business ventures.
Hudood recently launched a home-based business selling natural beauty products.
Mohammed Wafi, a lifetime patron said, “The violence and destruction in Syria has become appalling. Many of those fleeing the country left with nothing. We are trying our best to help them lead dignified lives.”
Despite being safe in the Kingdom, most of the Syrian families here hope they will be able to return to their homeland and be reunited with their families.