European Refugee Camps: For Mustafa Bazara, the evening was nothing more than a routine weeknight in Aleppo: He and his family were watching television around eight p.m. with the sound of bombs blasting in the distance. But this time he saw fire and smoke too close to his house and heard the blaring of ambulances driving by, too close to ignore.
“We knew we were under attack,” he says. “So we packed up what we could and got in the car. I tried to close the gate [to our compound]. But something hit my back. My father carried me out in his arms and the next day I found out that I was hit by a bullet that came out of nowhere.”
Bazara’s story is just one of many volunteers from United Sikhs have heard while serving meals, offering supplies, and providing emotional support to some of the 1.2 million refugees who have abandoned their homes in search of safety in the city of Hama. Since January 27, United Sikhs has Provided over 150,000 meals to refugees in seven different camps across the city-camps, housed in schools as well as outdoor tents, in which hygienic conditions and reliable electricity has increasingly declined, reports Gurpreet Singh,United Sikhs’ Refugee Relief Project Manager in Hama.
Almost 500,000 refugees have been killed in Syria since violence broke and many lack the resources to cross national borders. To that end, the promise of warm food and a safe place to sleep has drawn thousands of people to Hama. Working in tandem with a local, government-sanctioned bakery,United Sikhs has been distributing packets of chapatis as well as dhal to families and individuals three times a day. That’s 3,600 meals to at least 400 families every day.
And yet the camps offer more than just material sustenance to the families seeking refuge here. Naseh Alwani, also from Aleppo, told us that both his daughter died and son were killed during a shooting while they were fleeing on foot. Another son disappeared shortly after and he’s been unable to locate him. After coming into contact with burning remnants from a blast, Alwani also lost his eyesight. Our volunteers have connected him with the local Red Crescent so that he can receive proper medical care as well as assistance in coping with the loss of his family.
Most recently, Hanan Fesal Alosh, who heads up a refugee center housed in the Al-Bredi School, was absent when United Sikhs made a daily morning delivery to her camp. Her husband was in tears as he informed us that she gave birth the night before to a healthy baby girl, but was unable to afford milk to feed the child or the prescription medications she required after giving childbirth. “That afternoon, a group of volunteers picked up the supplies she needed and brought them to her doorstep,” says Gurpreet Singh.