UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini visited Syria this week where he met with Palestinian refugees who lost loved ones in the devastating earthquake in February.
The deep impact on the mental health of Palestinian refugee was evident throughout the stories that the Commissioner-General was told in the Palestinian refugees of Neirab, Ein el Tal, and Latakia.
"Families lost almost everything including their most precious: their children. I met a mother and a father who lost their three children in the earthquake. No words can alleviate their grief and loss. The very minimum we can do now is to give them and many others empathy and assistance. While they will never forget, we must help families overcome their grief and loss,” said Lazzarini.
"Even the 12 years of grueling war did not prepare us for this,” said an UNRWA staff member in Neirab camp near Aleppo. “Those 40 seconds of the earthquake felt like 40 years of war. We were terrified and are still traumatized."
The tragic earthquake added to years of shock and trauma that have afflicted Palestinian refugees in Syria. Prior to the earthquake, they were among the most vulnerable, and their situation deteriorated constantly due to 12 years of conflict, deepening poverty, loss of jobs and devaluation of the local currency.