A desperate and largely unknown humanitarian crisis is deteriorating in the Lake Chad Basin region of West Africa, forcing millions of people to flee their homes and leaving millions more in need of humanitarian assistance. Oxfam is providing life-saving support but help is urgently needed to prevent the crisis turning into a catastrophe.
Meet Liqaa. She’s a 23 year old English literature graduate from Syria. She’s recently married, and expecting her first child soon. She’s also the face of a new global petition calling on Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Barack Obama to make urgent progress on the Syria peace talks they promised.
Liqaa’ agreed to be the face of our campaign because, in her own words, “We’ve shed enough tears and blood already. What we need is peace now. What we need is an end to the suffering.” She is one of millions of ordinary Syrians who believe that the only way to end the crisis in Syria is through a political solution that will bring peace to their country.
Oxfam staff member Caroline Gluck has been working in Jordan, and got to know Liqaa’ well over the last few months. Here, she tells us more about this remarkable young woman:
Liqaa’ is a friend. Someone I’ve gossiped with about movies, music, food, and families. Earlier this year, she graduated from her university, where she studied English.
Liqaa’ is a friend. She’s also a refugee. And now she, like millions of others, faces an uncertain future. Even more so, since she is also pregnant and worried about what the coming months will bring.
I met her husband, Bassel, back in January, when Jordan and Lebanon were experiencing the worst winter weather in more than twenty years. The family lived in a new section of Za’atari refugee camp, where Oxfam had been installing water facilities and building shower blocks, toilets and wash areas.
Bassel, with his winning smile and deep-sunken dark brown eyes, proudly told me his wife spoke good English and would be coming to the camp soon. He went on to explain that he and his wife had arrived at the camp a few weeks earlier, but she had returned to Syria because she wanted to graduate from her university course in Damascus. “My studies were so important to me,” she later told me. “It can help me improve my life in the future.”
It was a highly risky decision heading back into Syria, where conflict was raging, for the sake of a piece of paper. But Liqaa’ is a forceful woman and when she’s made up her mind, she won’t be swayed.
When I first met Liqaa’, her eyes shone as she talked about her life back home, her time at university, her family and how she and Bassel had met. The couple married after the war began. Bassel, she told me, was the one pushing for the wedding ceremony. “He was so insistent to be married; we had been engaged for three years and he could not be patient any longer,” she said smiling. “He loved me so, so much. It was not a good time, but it was Allah’s will,” she said.
Bassel looked on, bashfully, not understanding his wife’s English, but understanding well enough to know that she was talking about him with love.
Liqaa’ told me how they have had their ups and downs over the weeks in Za’atari. Days when the weather was dire, when she felt sick and depressed, when her husband found it hard to get work and they talked about leaving the camp. But there were other, more upbeat days too, when there had been good news about Liqaa’s family in Syria, or when Bassel managed to find some work in the camp.
She is now eight months pregnant and feels overwhelmed by the thought of giving birth in the camp, with her family all in Syria. Bringing new life into the world at such a time of uncertainty will be hard, but it’s also a reminder that life carries on, and that where there is new life, there is also new hope.
For many of the 1.8 million refugees who have been forced to flee their homes in Syria, new hope comes in the shape of peace talks, which could represent the beginning of the end for the war in Syria.
Help by standing with Liqaa’ and support the petition for Syrian peace talks today.
You can donate to Oxfam's humanitarian response to the Syria crisis.