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Swedish delegation visits Syria Humanitarian Fund projects in Aleppo

26 Jun 2022

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Ann Dismorr with Rania and her daughters. Credit: OCHA/Sevim Turkmani

Damascus – Ann Dismorr, the Chargé d’Affaires of Sweden to Syria and the Ambassador to Lebanon, led a delegation to Aleppo to visit several projects funded by the Syria Humanitarian Fund (SHF). Sweden is one of the largest donors to Syria, particularly to the SHF.

The delegation, which comprised Swedish officials and a team from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, visited projects including a community centre, a school, and a water and sanitation initiative. During their three-day visit, the delegation also met with several families receiving humanitarian assistance, including winterization support and repair to damaged housing.

“We lived in a transitional shelter for four years before this,” said Rania, a mother of four, referring to their apartment recently rehabilitated with SHF funding. Her daughters nodded while perched on the small sofa in the dark room of their new home.

As the transitional shelter had no walls, the family used to hang plastic sheets for privacy and some protection from the weather. However modest, their new home is a safe haven and a new chance at life.
“I feel safe here and I like school. My favourite class is Arabic studies,” chimed in Reem, Rania’s middle daughter, who is 14. Her sister smiled shyly and confirmed her preference for Arabic studies as well.

At a centre in rural Aleppo that specializes in helping people with disabilities, we met Haneen, a shy 12 year old from the area. She was being fitted with a prosthetic, to help her mobility.

Haneen can walk again. Credit: OCHA/Sevim Turkmani

This project targets the most vulnerable people, many of whom are women and children, to strengthen affected communities’ resilience and give them an opportunity to become self-reliant.
“I am happy that I will walk again,” Haneen said. “And I want to tell other kids about this centre.”

The centre’s chief doctor said: “The needs here are far greater than what we can provide. Out of nearly 20,000 people in this area needing help, we have managed to assist around 150 with prostheses and around 7,000 with wheelchairs and other assistive devices so far.”

Additional support is desperately needed to reach all 11,395 vulnerable people targeted through this initiative, especially since children need to be re-fitted with a new prosthesis every three years, as their bodies grow and change rapidly.

In the next neighbourhood, children’s laughter filled the courtyard adjacent to a school being rehabilitated. Men were hard at work inside the building and in the yard – painting, hammering, landscaping. 

This school is part of a project being implemented by Syrian non-governmental organization FOUADI, aiming to rehabilitate five damaged schools in Aleppo’s eastern and southern countryside.

As the school is not yet ready, the children study in shifts in the limited space adjacent to the school. Cramped and underfunded, the facilities are painfully insufficient, but the children seem unfazed – they get to study and be together, which is all that matters to them.

Aleppo is home to approximately 4.2 million people, an overwhelming majority of whom urgently need humanitarian assistance. More than a decade of crisis has brought immeasurable suffering and destruction to the people of this area, who face a new set of challenges every day. Much of the infrastructure is destroyed, there are water and electricity shortages, and economic decline continues to hamper people’s ability to rebuild their livelihoods.

Humanitarian partners are on the front lines supporting people daily. Many of those partners are Syrians who face many of the same struggles as the people they serve, with fuel in short supply and electricity available only for a few hours each day, if at all.

Ambassador Dismorr said: “The situation is dire. But I am encouraged by the commitment and efforts displayed by the people we have met. We need to continue our efforts to support the men, women, boys and girls who live here – and in all parts of Syria. I’m pleased to see that SHF funding is proving once again to be an effective tool to deliver early recovery assistance and life-saving humanitarian support.”

One thing was clear: The people of Aleppo are determined to rebuild their future, and additional resources are critical to help support them on their path to recovery.