“People were starving. We had no choice but to flee for our lives.”

“My wife died of hunger here… I became helpless” Issack also lost four of his children to the 2011 famine. He then moved the rest of his family to Mogadishu to try and save them. “All my livestock and crops were wiped out. […] People were weak… they were starving. We had no choice but to flee for our lives.”  In the longest drought Somalia has seen in 40 years, all families like Issack’s can do, is pray for rain

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The Story of Turfah: “We were forced to sleep hungry”

As the holy month approaches a close, we are reminded how important these last blessed days are. With nine days left, your good deeds will transform into blessings for you, and for those most in need. Help refugees during the last blessed days 90-year-old Turfah is a Syrian refugee in Lebanon. As the sole caretaker of her two disabled daughters, the hardships she faces as she tries to look after her family, are unimaginable. “We were forced to go to

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“We cannot afford to eat anything”

As we enter into these blessed last 10 days of Ramadan, our thoughts go out to the millions of refugees and internally displaced people struggling to afford an Iftar meal. Many stories from the Rohingya camps highlight the immense difficulties faced by mothers and fathers in these situations. A Rohingya father of six, Liaqat reminisces about Ramadan back home in Myanmar, which he fondly calls ‘a piece of heaven’. He is struggling to provide his children with the food and

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Afrah, a Yemeni mother: “the last time we ate meat was last Eid”

The month of Ramadan in Yemen is difficult to imagine. The situation there has been deemed the worst humanitarian crisis globally, where hunger is a daily challenge for millions. As the sole provider for her family, Afrah a displaced Yemeni mother, shares her struggles during the holy month of Ramadan. “If my children want juice or biscuits, I try to get it for them with the little I have. I can’t buy these things often… I try to teach them

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For Fajr, the Winter Cold Isn’t the Only Tragedy She’s Dealing With

Out of the many prayers that Fajr recites daily, there is one in particular that she repeats often: “I pray God extends my life until he gets old enough”. The person she is referring to is her son, Noor, whose birth granted her the nickname of “Um Noor”. Having lost her husband over six years ago, she has been the sole provider for her only son as they settled in Jordan following the Syria crisis, explaining that “Noor is my

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After Tragedy and Displacement, Hoda’s Smile Continues to Inspire

As the New Year fast approaches and temperatures plummet, millions in the MENA region are seeking comfort in the safety of their homes – equipped with seasonal snacks, running water, and heating systems. These are all privileges that can easily be taken for granted, but for Syrian refugees residing in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley, the reality of winter is far more daunting. Known for its intense summer heat waves, Bekaa’s winters are just as harsh in the opposite direction. Transitioning to

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Lebanon’s Economic Crisis is Taking its Toll on Fatima and Her Children

More than a decade after the Syrian crisis broke out, Syrian refugees in Lebanon are facing as much precarity as ever. Per a survey conducted jointly by UNHCR, WFP, and UNICEF, it is estimated that 90% of Syrian refugee households live in extreme poverty and are on less than half the Lebanese minimum wage. The dearth of employment opportunities stems in large part from the host country’s severe socio-economic and financial downturn due to the fuel crisis, the Beirut port

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Remember refugee mothers like Yazi (Um Mustafa) with your Zakat

I’ve seen many refugee stories during my work with UNHCR. Some were tragic and sad and others were full of hope and resilience, but the story of Um Mustafa will be hard for me to forget. Imagine the suffering that she could be passing through during this winter. First, I would like to send Yazi my sincere wishes that she could soon meet her son sound and safe. Being separated from him had left a lot of sadness and pain

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Amid Rising Winter Needs, Working the Fields Isn’t Enough to Feed Hassan’s Family

“Temperatures here are scary [during winter]”, says Hassan, a Syrian refugee father in Lebanon. After being forced to flee his hometown during the Syrian crisis, he is one of the 339,473 Syrian refugees currently residing in Bekaa Valley, which experienced its worst snowstorm in decades earlier this year and is known for its acutely brutal winters. In preparation for this, Hassan has spent his days working in the fields to provide for his family – to little avail, “This year,

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Meet Salha, Whose Suffering Reaches New Extremes During Winter 

Despite losing her father at a young age, 45-year-old Syrian refugee Salha Tammo looks back fondly on her life in Aleppo before the war, when she was debt-free and close to her brothers who provided for the family. Nowadays, though, her situation could not be more different. After being forced to flee her hometown, she has lived in a camp called Basirma in northern Iraq for nine years, where she is now the sole caregiver for her elderly mother (age

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