Women in war-ravaged Syria are being thrust into the role of provider in a way few had experienced previously.
A decade of war in Syria has left young Syrians with heavy personal losses and yet to face the rebuilding of their shattered homeland.
A new survey by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) of 1,400 Syrian nationals living in Syria or in exile in Lebanon and Germany, highlighted on Wednesday the costs for those aged 18 to 25 of a war that has killed hundreds of thousands, displaced millions more and destroyed schools and hospitals.
“One of the shocking results of this survey is that we realised that 50 percent of Syrians had friends or a family member who was killed … One out of six Syrians had one of their parents either killed or wounded,” Fabrizio Carboni, the ICRC’s regional director for the Middle East, told Reuters news agency.
“Rebuilding the country is on their shoulders and obviously it’s quite unfair.”
The report coincides with the 10th anniversary of the start of protests against President Bashar al-Assad’s rule that turned into a full-scale civil war.
Assad’s military has now regained control of most of the country with the help of Russia and Iran.
Nearly half of young Syrians lost their income because of the conflict and almost eight in 10 reported struggling to afford food and other necessities, the report showed.
“Women have been particularly hard hit economically, with almost 30 percent in Syria reporting no income at all to support their family,” the ICRC said.
Ahmad, originally from Homs and living in Lebanon, said his situation is worsening by the day.
“I had more money when I was 10 years old than now when I am 24. I have nothing of my personal belongings I used to have at home,” he said in the report.
A video released by the ICRC shows 33-year-old Mouna Shawat, on crutches, walking on one foot past blocks of bombed-out buildings on streets full of rubble in the Syrian city of Aleppo before being fitted with a prosthetic device at a rehabilitation centre.
Shawat’s lower left leg had to be amputated several years ago after an IED blew up as she made her way home.
“We had everything – gas, diesel, services. Now we are cold and hungry, and we need to wait for gas to get warm. Sometimes we have to cook over a fire,” Shawat, who lives with her two children in Aleppo, recalled with nostalgia her youth before the civil war.
Referring to her children’s anxiety over her lost leg, she said: “To this day, every time it comes up they start crying, I try to comfort them.”