• Olga Borzenkova | Communications Officer

From various corners in the labyrinth of tents, youthful laughter fills the air as children gather to play. With innocent curiosity they observe each passing car, extending a friendly wave to passengers. However, this aura of childlike naivety and carefree play stands in stark contrast to the realities faced by their parents. Day after day, they struggle to make ends meet, battling the constant uncertainty of securing food and clean water.

This scene takes place in an informal settlement nestled in Aleppo, Northwest Syria--that used to accommodate nearly 200 families uprooted from their homes by the conflict. Today it has transformed into a sanctuary, hosting 85 more families who have tragically lost their homes in the devastating earthquake.

“We hosted many families who lost their homes in the earthquake. We opened our hearts and did our best to help them. We invited them to our tents because they came empty-handed, bereft of even the most necessities”, recalls Kotana.

For the past four years, Kotana, her husband, and their children have called this place home, navigating a tightrope walk between survival and despair. Relying on humanitarian aid themselves, struggling to find sufficient resources to pay for the kindergarten and school for their children, their hearts overflow with compassion. They opened their tent for three families for 15 days until they were provided with their own tents.

“I set up a tent that people gave me here. We need food and bread. No one provides bread or food on a daily basis”, shares Ibtisam.

The story of Ibtisam, a widow left to navigate displacement with her children after the earthquake, echoes the desperation that haunts many others like her. Seeking refuge in the tent provided by the kind-hearted residents, she yearns for basic necessities like food and bread.

“I wish I died before my husband and didn’t see my children in a desperate need”.

After the earthquake many sites like this had to expand to accommodate families whose houses had collapsed or became unlivable. It has put a greater pressure on community leaders to ensure access to essential needs for more people. While some families have found some limited opportunities to earn money from, for example, sorting out and selling beans, others still cannot afford to buy bread or find work. When a settlement or camp infrastructure is not working well, it further worsens the situation.

Recognizing the urgent need for security, IOM plans to rehabilitate two wells within the settlement, equipping them with solar panels to ensure a reliable water supply—enough to cover 60% of the camp's needs.

But the support doesn't end there. Dusty roads will be rehabilitated, easing access to vital supplies and road connections between the camp and schools, markets and hospitals that are located behind the camp. Light poles, dotting the settlement, will help create safer pathways for movement around the camp during nighttime. In addition, through partners, there will be established new latrines groups, while the current ones will be repaired as needed. To further address the community's basic needs, IOM and its implementing partners will distribute cash for food--offering a lifeline to those trapped in the jaws of despair.

Thanks to the Syria Crisis Humanitarian Fund, IOM is managing 56 sites like this one and five reception centers to improve infrastructure, address basic needs, and coordinate multi-sectorial assistance for conflict and earthquake-displaced families.

SDG 1 - No Poverty
SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities