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Nine months ago, Hoda and her husband, Mohammed, fled from Azaz – not far from the border with Turkey – to protect their children: daughters Noorhan, 8, Saga, 6, and son Abdul Rahman, 3. And now there’s baby Hassan, who was born in mid-March, two months premature.
The family is far from the fighting, and baby Hassan is safe – still receiving hospital care. But their living conditions are primitive, a tent in the middle of a dirt field without electricity or running water in Kilis, Turkey.
“When we first came to Kilis, we had nowhere to go, so we slept in a park for 10 days,” Hoda said. Local people who saw the homeless family guided them here.
“If financial conditions improve, we would look to rent a house so that our children can live somewhere with water and electricity. But right now our biggest issue is with our baby. All the money my husband earned is going to our baby, for his food and milk and medical bills,” Hoda said.
Mohammed makes about $50 a week picking up day labor work. A local aid agency occasionally helps with food and other supplies.
“The only reason we are withstanding these conditions in Turkey is because of my children,” Hoda said. “The situation in Syria was also difficult. Warplanes were flying, bombs exploding. After we saw that our neighbor’s house was destroyed, we decided to leave. It was slowly dawning on us that our house could be next.”
Hoda worried about the psychological toll the war was taking on her young children.
“My children used to hear everything and it was terrifying for them. My daughter still gets scared from the slightest sound,” she said. “She often wakes up at night from nightmares and the children will cry all night.”
Noorhan would like to go home. “I’m not happy here,” she said. “I want a house so we can be comfortable…and even if there is war I still want to go home to Syria.”
But her parents have no plans to return. “Our situation is obvious,” Hoda said. “Conditions are very bad there, nothing is improving at this stage. It’s just getting worse.”
- - Yuka Tachibana, Ammar Cheikomar and Aziz Akyavas