Syria: Images from inside - "What we left behind"

In cities across Syria, people have been forced to flee their neighborhoods, often moving multiple times, due to the bombing raids

Four years on from the start of the crisis in Syria, it has evolved into one of the largest humanitarian crises in recent decades, destroying the homes and livelihoods of millions of Syrians.

In Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey, CARE employs Syrian refugee volunteers who serve the refugee community in a variety of capacities, such as hygiene promotion, information sharing, and training in protection issues including early child marriage and gender-based violence. Even though refugees have fled their country, many continue to have intermittent contact with family and friends who remained in Syria, using social media and smartphones.

These photos, a collection of images from Syria, are an illustration of the life Syrian refugees left behind - images shared with CARE Syrian refugee volunteers, as captured by their relatives and friends who have remained behind. The photographs expose the ongoing destruction of a country, once home to an estimated 22 million people, more than half of whom are now displaced.

The photos are a telling reminder that life continues, albeit a difficult, and at times near impossible one. Yet, despite obstacles in humanitarian access, and fears around protection, CARE partners are working hard to implement programming on the ground in areas across Syria.

As we enter the fifth year of the crisis, CARE calls upon all parties to the conflict and the international community to redouble their efforts in bringing an end to the violence that has left 12.2 million in need of assistance, and 7.6 million people displaced, inside and outside Syria. The world must not watch this pass into yet another year:

Images from inside - "What we left behind"

Boy holding up a sign with the arabic alphabet he is teaching himself

A boy displays a board with the Arabic alphabet he is learning on his own. Displaced by the conflict, he and his family now live in an informal settlement in Syria. More than 40%  of children are no longer able to attend school.

abandoned school bus in Syria

Once a school bus used to transport elementary school children to class, it is now another casualty of conflict, a symbol of education denied. Like the school it served, it is now abandoned. The inscription on the bus reads: "The Road to Success".

The last photo of Ali's house before it was destroyed

This is the last photo that Ali took of his house before it was destroyed. "Before leaving our house in February 2012, I never thought I would leave it for this long, and that the only image I would have left from it would be in my phone and in my memory," says Ali. "I held my camera, and started taking pictures of every room, every corner of the house. I had lived there my entire life. Despite not expecting to leave the house for good, something in my subconscious was telling me to contemplate it for as long as I could, as if I would never return to it."

A few days later, the house was set on fire, and my father was killed in front of my eyes.

Ali's 19-year-old only brother Mohammed also died in the conflict. Ali used to study mechanical engineering at the university, but due to the crisis he could not continue his studies, leaving his future unknown.

UNRWA distributing aid

In the besieged Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk, in Damascus, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) distributes aid to Palestinians trapped in the camp which has endured several sieges over four years of the conflict. "You can see how all the houses have been destroyed, and the trees have turned to wreckage," says a Palestinian-Syrian serving as a volunteer at CARE now, describing the photo shared with her by a relative who stayed behind.

Syrian refugee tent

Displaced by violence that has often destroyed their homes, many Syrians are living in tents in one of hundreds of informal settlements inside Syria. Millions of Syrians have been living with little to no access to humanitarian aid after being displaced from their homes. This informal settlement was covered in snow in the latest snowstorm that hit Syria and the region in late February, leaving Syrian children, women, elderly, and men to endure below-zero-degree temperatures.

*Names have been changed and locations are not disclosed to ensure people are protected.

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News and stories are provided by CARE staff working to support our emergency responses and long-term development programmes.