Thousands of children and their families are on the move once again in North West Syria, where renewed violence and fears of a coronavirus outbreak have pushed them to look for safety elsewhere.
Since the ceasefire began on the 5th of March, more than 200,000 people — at least half of them children — have moved from overcrowded displacement camps either to other displacement sites or to their damaged homes they had previously abandoned due to the conflict.
Families told Save the Children that they face an impossible decision — either to remain in the camps which are chronically ill-prepared for an outbreak of the coronavirus, or to take their chances returning to the damaged shells of their houses near the frontlines of the conflict.
In recent weeks, a new wave of violence in Southern Idlib has forced hundreds of these families to pack up their few belongings and leave their houses once again .
Ayman*, 56, was living in a displacement camp after being forced to flee his home in a village in Idlib with his children. He told Save the Children: “Because of coronavirus, we could not leave our tent, we were isolated this whole time. So, we thought it would be better to return to our home, my children and I, and isolate ourselves here.”
Many families like Ayman’s have returned to homes without running water or electricity. Children have no access to education or healthcare as many schools and hospitals have been destroyed, and a lack of electricity or internet in the area precludes them from remote-learning opportunities.
Waleed*, 50, had to flee Idlib city during an escalation of violence with his family of eight. They had to share a flat with three rooms with four other families.