Shelter: More Than Walls and a Ceiling

Yahia left his home in Aleppo during the crisis because it was in an unstable area. He was displaced with his family to another area in Aleppo, only returning once the situation stabilized in his neighborhood years later.

“I am a daily worker; I don’t have a stable job. When we went back to our house, it was impossible for me to do anything other than hang covers on the windows. We were glad to return no matter how our home looked. It’s a gift that our house was still standing. We don’t have to rent anymore.”

We had to watch our steps going up to the fourth floor. It was dark because of the electricity cut and the spiral stairwell was very difficult to climb. Once we reached his home, Yahia rushed to the kitchen to get a bottle of water for us, as we caught our breath.

Yahia and his family came back to find their house with no doors. The windows were blown out from the impact of the clashes during the crisis, leaving only the metal frame. But the family had no other option for a place to live. Yahia does not have money to fix the house, or to install doors and windows for security.

The crisis isn’t the only thing Yahia and his family had to suffer from; his wife is a cancer patient, and his little daughter Rama has hypoxia, a condition where blood does not carry enough oxygen for the body and may cause death. Rama has cognitive difficulties which cause problems in learning new things, concentrating, or making decisions that affect their everyday life. She cannot go to school.

“When we came back, the house was a wreck. It was empty, and you can still see bullet holes in the walls.”

The Medair shelter team did the rehabilitation work; installing doors and windows, fixing the kitchen and the bathroom, and installed a battery to cope with the long hours of electricity cuts.

Over 5 million people in Syria will require shelter support in 2022, according to the humanitarian needs overview issued in February 2022. A shelter is more about safety and security than about having four walls and a ceiling. Families deserve to feel secure in their own houses by having something as simple as a front door or a window to protect them from the weather and the outside world.

Medair seeks to reach people like Yahia to provide them with a secure environment inside their homes, to make it a safe place for them and their families to live decently in.

In Syria, Medair’s work is made possible by the European Commission’s Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations, Swiss Agency of Development and Cooperation (SDC), Swiss Solidarity, SlovakAid and generous private donors like you.

This content was produced with resources gathered by Medair field and headquarters staff. The views expressed herein are those