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Snapshots: Syrian photographers capture life after the quakes

Shining a spotlight on northern Syria with one weekly photo of what matters to people on the ground.

Portrait of a man. He wears a head covering and glasses. Moawia Atrash/TNH

What does earthquake recovery look like in a place already ravaged by war? 

 

Find out for yourself with this weekly view from the ground in rebel-held northwest Syria. Each week, photographers share photos that represent what life is like now in a place hit hard by the 6 February earthquakes.

 

Check back with “Snapshots” to see all the photos, and to listen to the photographers explain why they matter to them as – long after other cameras have moved on – The New Humanitarian looks to keep the spotlight on affected people in the region, which was already in dire need of aid before this latest disaster struck. 

Comments have been condensed for length and clarity.

 

Week of 30 April 2023

Nearly three months after the earthquakes, the UN says at least 53,000 families displaced by the disaster in northwest Syria are still in need of “dignified shelters”.

That includes people in the town of Jindires, in Aleppo province. For this week’s snapshots, photojournalist Moawia Atrash visits the temporary town square – with a slide and other activities for local kids – set up in Jindires next to partially destroyed buildings. Humanitarian assistance is badly lacking, he says.

 

 

Week of 16 April 2023

As Muslims around the world mark Eid al-Fitr, Syrians in the village of Maland, Idlib, are taking to the streets to pray, after the only mosque in the village was destroyed during February’s earthquakes. 

 

For our eighth Snapshots, Atrash captures Friday prayers in the village. Many of those attending lost their homes in the quakes and require international assistance to be able to rebuild. 

 

 

Week of 9 April 2023

People with serious health conditions in northwest Syria rely on hospitals in neighbouring Türkiye for specialist care. But February’s earthquakes cut off that option, leaving cancer patients without travel permits and much-needed treatment.

 

In this week’s instalment of Snapshots, photographer and journalist Abd Almajed Alkarh meets with a Syrian cancer patient who has been left in limbo in Idlib province, with most cross-border medical travel still banned. Hospitals in northwest Syria say they are overwhelmed with an influx of patients and dealing with a serious shortage of medicine.

Week of 2 April 2023

February’s earthquakes, which killed more than 57,000 people across Türkiye and Syria, were followed by hundreds of aftershocks in the days that followed. This generated panic among residents in northwest Syria, including pregnant women. As a result, the region’s hospitals reportedly saw a sharp rise in premature births in the aftermath of the quakes.

 

For our Snapshots series, Alkarh speaks with one family reeling from the death of their baby boy, who was born three months early.  

Week of 26 March 2023

 

The earthquakes in Türkiye and Syria have left hundreds of thousands of children and young people displaced, according to UNICEF. 

 

In our fifth instalment of Snapshots, photojournalist Moawia Atrash documents 18-year-old Naiim Moussa’s efforts to salvage furniture from his destroyed home. Naiim lost his immediate family in the earthquakes, and is now preparing to live alone in Idlib.

 

 

Week of 19 March 2023

 

Six weeks on from the quakes, the situation takes a turn for the worse as dozens of camps in northwestern Syria are hit by flooding after a heavy storm passes through the region. The death toll across Türkiye and Syria has climbed above 56,000.

 

Alkarh captures images of a pharmacist who was left homeless when last month’s earthquakes flattened his home on the outskirts of Idlib city, killing his wife and two children. Left with no immediate family, Mohammed Wardi is now living in the on-call room at Ibn Sina hospital, where he also works, until he can find a new home.

 

 

 

Week of 12 March 2023

This week marks 12 years since the start of Syria’s war, highlighting the fact that the earthquakes have compounded an already desperate humanitarian situation. Nearly 60,000 people made homeless by the quakes are reported to be staying in newly set up displacement sites, and the humanitarian assessment NGO REACH says their most urgent needs are winter supplies, shelter, and cash.

 

For a novel perspective, Atrash turns his lens towards Mohammad Alaa Aljaleel, best known as the “cat man of Aleppo”, who has been busy rescuing and caring for pets trapped under the rubble. 

 

 

Week of 5 March 2023

One month on from the quakes, aid has begun to reach rebel-held northwest Syria, but large-scale reconstruction in the near future looks increasingly unlikely.

Atrash takes his camera to a village in Idlib province that was hit hard by Syrian government bombing in past years. Now, most of the village’s residents are sleeping in tents. 

 

 

Week of 26 February 2023

Two weeks after the catastrophic earthquakes in Türkiye and Syria, the death toll climbs towards 50,000. With search and rescue efforts ending, the focus shifts towards getting aid to the millions who have lost their homes, jobs, and loved ones in the middle of winter. 

 

Atrash visits a town in the northern outskirts of Aleppo province that was almost completely destroyed in the quakes.

 

This project was funded by the H2H Network’s H2H Fund, which is supported by the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) and the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO).

Edited by Ciara Lee and Annie Slemrod.

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