With little hope, 30-year-old Syrian citizen Noura, who fled to Jordan at the beginning of last month, speaks about the pain of being away from her hometown Daraa and spending the month of Ramadan away from her family and loved ones for the first time.
With sentences catching in her throat, she sadly says: “The month of Ramadan this year is similar to last year. It came around mixed with the smell of blood, sadness and destruction.” Noura adds: “During the month of Ramdan last year, I was living with my family in Daraa under a barrage of bombs. We were fasting and asking God to relive our distress.”
Noura continues telling her story saying that three members of her family died last month in the ongoing violence since March 2011 which forced her and her old mother to take refuge in the border town of Ramtha in the north of Jordan.
Noura spends her day inside a temporary housing set up by the Jordanians. She receives two meals per day through the aid provided by the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Amman and some charities.
The story of 22-year-old Fatimah from the city of Hama is not so much different from that of her fellow citizen with whom she shares a small room in the housing complex. Fatimah says in a quavering voice: “The massacres spreading across the country displaced Syrians between different countries.” She adds, in tears: “My family is scattered in Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon, and for the first time, we spend Ramadan displaced.”
Fatimah recounts the tumultuous journey she took with hundreds of other refugees that began with a dangerous passage over the minefield-laden border. It is the first chapter of a story that she has been suffering through for months. She says: “I never expected to spend the month of Ramadan as a refugee awaiting others’ alms … I never expected to find my family displaced in neighboring countries during this holy month of fasting that has always brought us together for iftar.”
Ahmad, 45, says: “Syria is dying during Ramadan. They shed blood and did not respect the sanctity of this holy month.” Ahmad recounts what he called “the stories of slow death experienced by the besieged people in Homs during Ramadan.” He adds: “There is no water, no electricity, and no medicine. They are setting fire to the bakeries and shops. People can’t find anything to break their fast. Many mosques were closed, while others were turned into military barracks.”
He concludes: “I hope that by the time Eid al-Fitr comes, the land will be liberated and we will be able to safely return to our country.”
Last Friday, tens of thousands of Syrians in Jordan started fasting on the first day of Ramadan, while thousands of them are spending this month for the second year in Jordan. The Jordanian government says that the month of Ramadan amid this hot weather increases the human responsibility toward the Syrian refugees.
Jordanian Minister of State for Information Samih al-Maaytah says that Jordan “is exerting effort to fulfill its duty towards the refugees, but we are afraid that the daily number of refugees arriving to the country may increase in an unusual way that will exacerbate the situation.”
However, Zayid Hammad, head of Al-Kitab wa al-Sunnah Society [the Koran and Sunnah Society] charged by the Jordanian Government to take care of Syrians, says that the society sponsors 9,000 Syrian families of 50,000 members. He adds that “during this month of fasting, people give alms and donations which reduces the burden of different Jordanian sides towards the refugees,” noting that “on the first day of Ramadan, the society received 25,000 cooling fans, one thousand water coolers, and one thousand refrigerators from international organizations, in addition to thousands of iftar packages [food packages to break the daily fast] to be distributed to Syrians in Jordan.”
He also pointed out that the society registers almost 100 new Syrian refugees every day and provides daily meals for thousands of those refugees. The latest government statistics conducted in Jordan at the end of June show that more than 140,000 Syrian refugees are now in Jordan. Nevertheless, some people who are in charge of relief work are speaking of larger numbers reaching 200,000 refugees.