There has been a small glimmer of hope for some Syrians living through the crisis that has been going on for more than two years. After living as refugees in neighbouring countries, thousands of Syrians streamed back into war ravaged parts of the city of Homs where they got to see the devastation first hand. Many would ask why people would go back to a place that has been torn apart by war and political instability. The answer is simple; for the people of Syria, this is home.
Many of those who returned to Homs on Saturday 24th May 2014 started making plans to move back in immediately. This happened just days after the rebels surrendered their strongholds to pro-government forces.
There were scenes of jubilation as those who were returning home chanted slogans, carried pictures and marched through the city. It was a day of celebration for these people who were finally home after two long years. However, it was not the grand homecoming they had imagined. Residents scavenged through what they could find of their homes. Some were able to get belongings like their clothes, dusty mattresses and gas canisters which they carried away in bags and trolleys.
There were some intensely emotional scenes as well. One woman couldn’t find anything valuable, except for some photos. “These photos will remain a memory of me, of the beautiful days we had here”, she said. This is just one heart-breaking story, but there are many more like it.
In order for these people to return home, the rebels had to surrender their stronghold in Homs to government forces. They surrendered the city in exchange for safe passage to the nearby northern countryside as part of a deal already in place.
The people of Syria have certainly had to face some touch choices in recent times.
Following the political turmoil and the outbreak of civil war, it is the ordinary Syrian people felt the brunt of it, losing homes and lives. Even now, over two million people are living as refugees and most of them are children.
The United Nations and humanitarian relief aid agencies like Muslim Aid are doing their part to ensure the displaced people of Syria get the help they deserve in their time of need. Already, makeshift refugee camps have been placed in neighbouring countries like Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt and Turkey.
Whilst things seem to be moving towards recovery in areas, Syrians still face danger in the aftermath of recent events. There have been reports of land mines being left behind, among other things which make it all the more challenging for people to think about putting their lives back together.
Not only are they faced with the prospect of having to pick up where they left off before the crisis, but in the case of Homs they also have to rebuild an entire city. Municipal works began fixing power lines in the city whilst bulldozers cleared rubble from the street. At the same time, locals were relieved when The Syrian Red Crescent gave clean water, food and candles to the city’s residents.
Whilst it is good news to hear some Syrians are finally going home, it must be remembered that millions still remain refugees. Muslim Aid has been at the forefront of providing humanitarian aid to the people of Syria. We encourage those of you who can make a donation to continue supporting our Syria Emergency Appeal so that we can ensure refugees are properly cared for until they too can finally go home.