By Razan Rashidi
Homs, Syria, February 22, 2014 – “We have no idea where to go now”, says Ahida. She and her four children have been living at the Al Andalus facility since early February when the family were evacuated from the besieged old city of Homs. Her husband and 16 year-old son had to be interviewed by Syrian officials before they could leave.
“When we left the old city, we knew we wouldn’t have anywhere to go, Ahida explains. “But we had to leave because we were tired of being hungry all the time.”
The family were among more than 1,300 civilians – including 330 children – who were evacuated from the old city of Homs during a United Nations-monitored mission. Most evacuees showed signs of trauma, illness and malnutrition.
“We waited for assistance for so long,” recalls Ahida. ”There were many rumours that we would be rescued and the world woulld not let us die of hunger,” says Ahida.
During 600 days under siege, Ahida says she and her neighbours had to adapt to the harsh living conditions. “We started cooking grass and weeds for our main meals. We boiled herbs to make soup for the children. We had little to eat for ourselves because the children came first,” she added.
Ahida has two other daughters who now live in Damascus, one of whom she hasn’t been able to contact, after their phone was destroyed in the shelling. For now Ahida will have to wait to see the rest of her family, as they decide where to go next.
An estimated 600 males have been brought to the Al Andalus shelter facility for screening since evacuations from the Old city of Homs began on February 7. As of February 24, about half of those people had been cleared.