"The head of Saraqeb city council, 35-year-old al-Muthanna Mohammad, said that two such organisations had been set up recently, dealing respectively with the displaced from Aleppo and from Homs."
When Ali al-Homsi, 30, sought refuge in Saraqeb city, he had no idea of the bureaucratic problems life as a displaced person would bring.
“I was only newly married and didn’t think it was a problem that I had no official documents confirming my marriage, since I had a copy of the marriage contract a sheikh had written for us,” he said. “However, these documents became necessary when my wife gave birth to a baby girl and I had to register her.”
Al-Homsi had no choice but to leave his daughter unregistered for several months, until he managed to resolve the problem with the help of the Association for Homs Displaced People, an NGO set up specifically to deal with such administrative issues.
The head of Saraqeb city council, 35-year-old al-Muthanna Mohammad, said that two such organisations had been set up recently, dealing respectively with the displaced from Aleppo and from Homs.
They deal with a wide range of issues brought to them by representatives such as Maher Oueir, who speaks for a group of 65 families displaced from Homs.
“These organisations helped bring us back together after being scattered here and there,” he said. “They allow us to have a representative body to help us solve our problems and specific needs without having to approach other councils and organisations.”
The 35-year-old said that aid had previously been scattered among a number of bodies, some of which had their own agendas.
“There are many organisations and even more favouritism,” he continued. “Some of them deal with the issues of certain displaced people and not others.”
The new NGOs aim to ensure that displaced people have all necessary official paperwork such as identification documents as well as marriage, birth and death certificates. They also work on providing housing and job opportunities, as well as solutions to security-related issues.
In addition, they act as intermediaries between the local council, the displaced and all civil society organisations.
Amer al-Halabi, a 38-year-old displaced person from Aleppo, lauded how the NGO was “bringing the displaced inhabitants of Aleppo together. It looked at our needs and attended to them, so these organisations act as our representatives and take care of our affairs”.
Al-Halabi said that he had been unemployed for a long period of time until the body had helped him find a job with a decent salary at another NGO.
Local policeman Hussam Alwa, 39, also said that the representative NGOs played an important role.
“We as Free Police document the increasing numbers of displaced people on a daily basis and have to find their locations, so the role played by these organisations in updating their databases on a regular basis by registering newcomers, or those who leave to other places, is helping the displaced in every way, preparing and documenting comprehensive data sheets about them,” he said.
“Establishing these organisations should improve the lives of displaced people, as they are highly motivational and instill a sense of shared responsibility towards tasks that need to be completed,” Alwa concluded.