More than three million in northwestern Syria will be observing this year’s Ramadan, Islam’s holy month of fasting, while living in rundown tents and shelters after having endured protracted displacement, years of war, and a devastating earthquake.
“We’re living the toughest days of our lives... How will we rejoice in Ramadan’s advent when many of our loved ones will be missing from our Iftar tables?” said Khaled, 33, a west Idlib local who lost 13 relatives, including a mother and a brother, in the February 6 quake.
Khaled noted that, this year, his family did not perform the usual preparations for Ramadan because they were still mourning their loss.
Umm Muhammad, 41, whose family was afflicted by the earthquake, took refuge in a shelter near the city of Jandaris.
“This year’s Ramadan is coming and I’m living in unprecedented instability,” she said, recounting how she had lost her kitchen and house in the earthquake.
Umm Muhammad now lives in a tent with a few cooking utensils. Moreover, she does not have stable access to cooking gas, which is why she prepares her meals over a fire she sets after gathering wood from nearby farms.
Considering her family’s limited financial means and her husband's inability to work because of the earthquake, this Ramadan, Umm Muhammad will only be serving simple foods, such as bulgur, rice, vegetables, and tomato molasses.
Making matters worse, a heavy rainstorm recently hit northwestern Syria, impacting hundreds of displaced families. Torrential rains swept their tents, and everything inside was damaged, including the supplies that families worked to prepare for Ramadan.
An official in the “Adwan refugee camp,” which houses more than 400 displaced families in the western countryside of Idlib, confirmed that they no longer have anything suitable for food, after the devastating rainstorm.