In December 2013, Faisal Mirza (Holland) a volunteer of Minhaj Welfare Foundation travelled to Damascus, Syria to assess the humanitarian situation after almost two years of internal unrest. In addition to meeting with local NGOs, MWF team distributed winter warmers and food packs to families living in temporary make-shift shelters within schools and buildings. Below is a personal diary of Faisal’s visit to Syria.
Tuesday, 17 December 2013
11.00 Departure to Damascus by road
14.00 Arrival border.
16.00 Drive to Damascus
17.00 Meeting at United Nations Relief and Work Agency (UNRWA). Met with Country Deputy Director and other staff members. UNWRA staff explained the severe situation the displaced people are living in, people’s lives are not secure and there is not much support from local government.
Wednesday,18 December 2013
11:00 Visit UNRWA. Talk about the psychological issues people in refugee camps are facing. I focused together with the delegation leader on how we will divide the aid over the different camps. The biggest need is for baby milk and blankets.
13:30 Visit to Jaramanah where we visited two camps next to each other with about 600 people. Both are school buildings converted into camps. Five rooms are still being used as classes to educate the children of the camps.
15:30 Visit to the Al-Jazaeeri school, a camp in the south of Damascus, near the area of Yermouk which is currently onder siege. Next to it there is a mosque which has become a place for refugees. Mostly women, their men are fighting in Yermouk.
17:00 Sunset. Back to hotel before dark. Internet is same situation. Very frustrating. Bombs at night going off.
Thursday, 19 December 2013
11:30 Visit to various religious sites.
19:00 To airport. We will stay at the airport hotel so we can receive the plane at night.
20:00 After check-in we receive the news that the plane left too late from Glasgow Airport due to technical reasons. This made it impossible for the plane to arrive in Rotterdam at such a time that it could be here in Damascus this night. Tomorrow is Friday and the airport staff will not be here in the afternoon.
21:00 We decide to go back to the hotel in Damascus even though that’s dangerous. It wasn’t save to stay near the airport either because at the airport where they fire off missiles. The plane will leave from Rotterdam tomorrow and will arrive at night in Damascus.
Friday, 20 December 2013
10.00 We were suppose to distribute today, but since the plane hasn’t arrived yet, we decide to visit a few camps and distribute fruit.
12:00 Visit to a small concrete factory which serves as a distribution center. We’ll give some of our aid to this center so it can be spread around the place.
13:30 Jummah Prayer.
15:00 Visit to neighbourhood Ruk aldin which is located in the hills of Damascus. We visit two buidlings next to each other. There are about 200 people in one building, and they have three toilets to share. People were happy with the fruit.
Saturday, 21 December 2013
12:00 Back to airport, plane has landed this morning.
13:00 Clearance process still going on
14:00 Goods cleared out, only restriction we have is that we’re not allowed to give out the food items until they have been checked in the laboratorium.
14:30 Little session for the press, I gave a statement on behalf of the delegation.
14:45 Start loading all aid into trucks to be transported to our depot.
The earliest for everything to arrive in the depot is 18:00. It will be dark by then, we are not allowed to be outside that time and to distribute in camps. So distribution will be done tomorrow.
Sunday, 22 December 2013
10:00 In depot to check everything and allocate goods to the right vehicle in order to transport it to the camps. Every delegation member will go with a vehicle to hand over the goods to the camp.
15:00 For visit to the camp of Jaramanah with one vehicle.
16:00 Check-out and departure to Beirut
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