SARC Stories

Drought puts additional strain on families affected by the crisis in Syria


By Vivian Tou’meh, SARC “The drought will place further strain on communities who have already largely exhausted their resources. With low levels of income, purchasing power decreases and so does the standard of living”, says Ali Diab, a water engineer from SARC’s Deir Ezzor branch. “This year’s seasonal drought is expected to be the worst since years, bringing further strain to farmers, affecting harvests and food prices.” The drought in Syria is not a new problem. The country has suffered the effects of an ongoing drought since mid-2006. In 2007, Syria’s north-east region suffered from the worst drought to hit the country… Read More »


Health, water and the increasing threat of disease


By Penny Sims and Vivian Tou’meh, Damascus Sulaf, 15, and her 7-year-old sister Hiba are waiting their turn at the Syrian Arab Red Crescent’s children clinic in Dwailaa areas, Rural Damascus. The two girls are diabetic, and waiting to get their insulin. Sulaf has been having problems with her eyesight too and her family are concerned. Displacement makes dealing with ongoing chronic conditions, such as diabetes, much more difficult. Families don’t have ready access to medication. Conditions that would usually be monitored at home are going unchecked, which is placing a strain on a health service that is already under… Read More »


A new environment creates new challenges for psychosocial support specialists


By Penny Sims, IFRC and Vivian Tou’meh, SARC This psychosocial support centre Dweila, Damascus, first opened in 2008 to help refugees fleeing Iraq. Now, while it still supports Iraqi, Somalia and Palestinian refugees, the centre has seen a big increase of Syrian people needing help. Waad, the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) project coordinator says: “Psychosocial support is as essential to human beings as food and shelter.” The centre sees many displaced Syrian people who need help to deal with stress, or simply someone to talk to. The volunteers have seen many children who are struggling to adjust to the… Read More »


The changes wrought on a Red Crescent branch by an ongoing conflict


By Vivian Tou’meh and Sana Tarabishi, SARC Prior to the conflict in Syria, the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) was a very different organization with a very different mission. It had been a significant presence in support of people fleeing other crises in the region. Branches close to the border with Iraq, for instance, had become well-versed in supporting refugees. The nature of SARC’s mission changed in 2011. The Aleppo branch, which has been involved in major operations since the outbreak of violence, was established in 1947. In its early years, the branch provided health services to local people – mostly children… Read More »


Building healthier communities in a time of crisis


By Vivian Tou’meh, Syrian Arab Red Crescent Abeer is pleased to be one of the hygiene promotion team: “I enjoy this work; especially I am in direct contact with people who need support and awareness raising in their daily life inside temporary shelters”, Abeer has seen tremendous change in people’s practices over the past month, “Those people have improved their hygiene and sanitation practices including washing hands after using the bathroom and before food preparation”. Abeer numerous responsibilities at SARC Tartous branch as a Hygiene promotion coordinator include conducting session discussions on safe hygiene and sanitation practices inside shelters for IDPs… Read More »


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