Driffield NewsNEWS

‘Please support appeals for earthquake victims’

A Syrian woman who came to Driffield as a refugee over five years ago to escape the civil war in her homeland, is urging people in the Capital of the Wolds and local villages to support the humanitarian efforts that have been set up following the devastating Turkey-Syria earthquake.

Walaa Saeed arrived in East Yorkshire with her husband and two children back in 2017, where she sought sanctuary as the civil unrest in Syria continued.

It means Walaa has not seen the family she left back home for several years, but they are never far from her thoughts.

When her phone rang on several occasions on 6th February, Walaa was concerned that it was a call to say her father had been taken ill.

However, the call brought news that a series of violent earthquakes had hit northern and western Syria, including the city of Idlib, where her family live, as well as southern and central Turkey.

The 7.8 magnitude earthquake caused widespread damage in north-west Syria and was followed by a series of aftershocks that also hit the area.

At the time of going to press, 3,868 people in Syria had died as a result of the earthquake, whilst a large winter storm has hampered rescue efforts and leaves those who have survived at severe risk of hypothermia.

A major humanitarian effort is now underway; however, aid has reached Syria more slowly due to the current political situation.

Thankfully, after several attempts to gain contact with them, Walaa discovered that her family were safe. However, the same cannot be said for thousands of other Syrians, with the situation worsening by the day.

“My family and I, my husband and two children, arrived in the UK in October 2017,” Walaa told the Wolds Weekly.

“We came through the UN as refugees and everyone here made us feel really welcome.

“We have completed five years and four months here, but we did not get here until we left Syria, then went to Jordan, then to Britain.

“I left my father, mother and sisters since that time. I haven’t seen them in years and can’t get over this yet.

“The family that I left in Syria are my father, mother and three sisters, but I also have brothers who emigrated to Lebanon, Turkey and Sweden.

“On the morning of the earthquake, my friend called several times and I was surprised at the time of the call because it was very early, but for a moment my mind started to take me left and right, and the first thing that occurred to me was that it might be bad news about my family, especially my father, because he is very ill and sick.

“A strong earthquake had hit Syria and one of the affected areas is where my family lives, the city of Idlib in Kafr Takharim, north-western Syria, on the Turkish border.

“Here I felt that my heart stopped for a moment, fearing for them. I tried to contact all of them, but there was no answer, and after several attempts the fear only increased.

“My sister’s husband answered the phone and reassured me that they were fine, but the situation is very bad, there are many victims and there is no communication network and since that day my family and I have been watching the news and pictures that have spread on social media and we are afraid, our hearts ache for this situation.”

Following the earthquake, over 2,000 Syria Civil Defence volunteers were sent to the affected areas to begin search and rescue efforts.

But it wasn’t until 9th February that the first international humanitarian assistance started to trickle into north-western Syria. It’s hoped that by opening two further border crossings, further aid will reach the areas in Syria that require it the most.

Immediate priorities are search and rescue, medical treatment for the injured, shelter for those who have lost their homes, heating in safe spaces, blankets, warm clothes and ensuring people have food and clean water.

Walaa said that with some of the aid failing to reach Idlib, she fears for her family.

She is urging everyone to come together and support the various appeals that have been set up, such as the DEC’s Turkey-Syria Earthquake Appeal, where people can make financial donations.

“Most of the aid that has been sent by other countries goes to areas that are under the Syrian government, but Idlib did not receive any aid because it is considered as an area that is out of the government’s control,” said Walaa.

“Aid couldn’t reach them. I couldn’t stand and watch without doing anything whatsoever.

“Maybe I can convey the wounded voice of the people still in Syria. This is my homeland, this is my family, this hurts me and it pains me.

“Now the people of Syria really need us and would appreciate help. Their homes were demolished, some families survived in the open and some did not.

“They need everything, such as treatment, food, tents, warm clothes, blankets, and money, anything that can help them, even nappies which are a basic need for all new born babies.

“I was always worried about my family because of the war, but now the fear has increased more than ever.

“And I wasn’t prepared for any bad news that might arrive. Therefore, we Syrians are always scared.

“We have no security since the war broke out. We left our homes and our country.

“I don’t know if I will see my family one day, but at least I feel reassured when they are healthy, well and happy.

“My dream that I hope to come true every day is that my sister who sought refuge in Lebanon, comes here because her family’s situation is very bad and she has children who have become adults and have not had any education which is a big problem, as it’s a child’s basic right.

“Let us all stand together in these circumstances. And I hope anyone that can help does, as it would really make a difference.”

Related Articles

Back to top button

Adblock Detected

Please allow ads on our site Ads help pay for our website and content. Switch off your ad-blocker and enjoy.