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Ramadan, Not Quite A Feast This Year In Syria

Makeshift kitchen cabinets in an under-construction building in Adra Al Omaleya in rural Damascus. Copyright: WFP/Hussam AlSaleh

As the holy month of Ramadan nears its end, close to three million Syrians continue to struggle each day after having left their homes and possessions and fled to safer areas. With limited or no incomes, the traditional Ramadan banquets and sweets seem a distant memory for internally displaced Syrians.

Adra Al Omaleya, RURAL DAMASCUS – On the last days of Ramadan, Abduallah and his family gather for the Iftar meal getting ready to break their day's fast. It has not been easy for this family as they struggle to make ends meet and put food on the table every evening.

Abdullah, a 62-year-old taxi driver from Douma, and his family live in an under-construction building in Adra Al Omaleya, a low-income development section of the town of Adra, east of Damascus. “You can only imagine how our situation was like during winter with no doors or windows and unpaved roads,” Abdullah says. “Now at least it is summer and we don’t have to worry about heating fuel and our priority remains having a secure place to live.” More than 13,000 internally displaced people currently live in Adra Al Omaleya.

This is the family’s second displacement after they had fled their area a year ago to the then safer Yarmouk camp. “It didn’t take much long before clashes took place in Yarmouk camp, we stayed there for no more than 45 days.”

The family has no other income but Abdullah’s taxi-driving wages that help a bit in covering their living expenses and WFP food assistance. They, like most displaced families across the country, say they depend almost entirely on WFP for most of their food needs as they cannot afford most foods in local markets.

“Anything that WFP provides helps but sometimes the ration runs out too soon,” Abdullah’s wife Um Mohamed says as she lays on the Iftar table Mojadara (traditional food made of bulgur & lentil) and some spaghetti. “Food prices are quite high and we have stopped buying many things.”

Um Mohamed also bakes bread using the WFP wheat flour she gets through the Arab Syrian Red Crescent (SARC) and is proud that she even uses the empty fava bean cans as cutlery holder. “We try to put everything we receive to good use.”