In a few days Muslims around the world will celebrate their most important religious holidays: Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan, an entire month of fasting from dawn until sunset. This Ramadan has probably been the hottest and longest Ramadan that I have ever been through in my life. People are fasting up to 16 hours every day. We are not eating and drinking during that time. It is hot in Jordan right now, and our daily routines continue. I wake up every morning and go to work, thinking about how difficult it will be for me to sit down on my desk without having my daily share of caffeine, without drinking water when I feel thirsty, and without having lunch during my “lunch” breaks. However, it always feels great to be reminded shortly afterwards that at the end of the day I can go home to my family, keep myself busy until sunset and can look forward to a home-cooked meal to break my fast.
Many of the more than three million Syrian refugees in the region used to have very similar routines and thoughts about Ramadan as I do. Now many of them have to endure the long fasting hours with many questions to answer: What will we eat after sunset? Where will the family that used to gather all on one table back in Syria break their fast now? And now with Eid coming in a few days: What will our children wear? How are we ought to celebrate this feast when there is not much to celebrate? How can we greet our relatives and friends if we cannot reach out to most of them, and if some of them have already died?
“I used to buy gifts for my children every Eid, I would even buy them musical instruments that we would play together,” told me Nadir, a Syrian musician who used to run a conservatoire in the city of Daraa before he had to flee to Jordan because of the war. “Now Eid is coming and I can’t even afford to buy them clothes. I can go around and knock on agencies’ and organizations’ doors asking for help, but that is not something that I’m used to.”
CARE provides emergency cash assistance for Syrian refugees in the region to pay for their most pressing needs, such as rent and food. But there is only so much that CARE and other aid organizations can do, and it is far from being enough to cover all the necessities of Syrians in the region, let alone provide them with what families celebrating Eid need for this annual occasion. According to official numbers, only one third of the total UN appeal for the Syria Response has been covered. CARE’s own appeal has only been funded to one quarter. At the same time the Syria crisis is ongoing and a political solution has not been found yet.
Eid al-Fitr this year is the fourth ever since the Syria crisis has started in 2011. In such times of the year people usually have wishes for themselves and their loved ones. And like every Eid for the past four years the biggest wish of the Syrian people is for the crisis in their homeland to come to an end. If you ask any Syrian refugee about their wishes for Eid their answers will be similar to what Nadir replied when I asked him: “All that I wish for is to return home, celebrate Eid with my family, and be able to buy my children gifts on Eid. I am looking forward to celebrating Eid, but my wishes are a little different from any other year. This year I wish for all the Syrian refugees to celebrate the next Eid al-Fitr in peace in their home country. In the meantime, I hope that people celebrating Eid around the world do not forget about Syrians.
Regional Communications Officer for the Syria Crisis. July 2014