Riad & Thouraya

Riad & Thouraya


Riad & Thouraya

Riad, 42, and Thurayya, 37 are from Raqqa Syria. They live with their 7 children in a tent in an informal tented settlement in the Bekaa region in Lebanon.

Thurayya’s road to safety was a strenuous and dangerous one as she had to flee Syria on foot with her young children. At the time Riad was already in Lebanon seeking medical treatment for an injury he had sustained while working.

Daesh had occupied their hometown a year earlier and the situation quickly deteriorated. “Every day was worse than the previous one. Daesh confined us in our homes and locked us inside; we couldn’t even go out to buy some bread” explains Thurayya.

When the aviation started to strike her village, Thurayya knew she had to get her children to safety. Having barely recovered from a C-section, she started her arduous journey to cross the Lebanese border. The family attempted to flee by boat but unfortunately a few minutes after they got in, they were asked to leave the boat and had to continue on foot.

I took the kids one by one and carried them high to the other side and then we started walking. We kept on walking and walking until we got to safety. We were exhausted and we thought we would die.

Before the war broke out, they had a home and a land that they could cultivate: “we were comfortable in Syria, we were working […] we had agriculture and we had a livelihood,” says Riad.

They now live in precarious conditions in the camp with no running water or electricity. “The living conditions are absolutely deplorable but we keep saying thank God. Thank God we are alive but we are surviving bit by bit.” Unfortunately, they keep getting more and more in debt as they are unable to provide for their kids and have to borrow money to feed them. “We have absolutely no means. Ever since we got here, we are getting more and more in debt. There is no possibility of paying it back. We take on more debts and are unable to pay them.”

They receive financial support but it is not enough to cover all their basic needs. Riad sustained a spine injury from his fall and cannot work, two of their daughters have to work for 8 hours a day in a potato field instead of going to school and are barely paid. One of their sons is severely disabled but they are unable to afford his treatment; the operation is very expensive and they cannot even get him an X-ray to determine the severity of his condition.

Their life is barely sustainable but they hope the situation in Syria will get back to normal. “Safety is the most important thing now,” says Thourayya. “We just hope for the country to be safe again so we can go back,” continues Riad.

© European Union 2019 / Johanna de Tessières