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Syria: Despite heat and continued violence, work continues
06 July 2017

Parents and children engage in arts and crafts together at a JRS Centre in Homs, Syria (JRS Homs).

Aleppo, 6 July 2017 - Syria continues to heat up: literally and figuratively. With daytime temperatures this past week soaring to between 40 and 45 degrees Celsius in most parts of the country, it's been a tough few days for many. In addition to the heat, the shortage of electricity and water add to the suffering, although there have been official efforts to improve the situation on this front.

The violence continues with reports of sporadic shellings in various parts of the country. Three explosions rocked Damascus City in the early hours last Sunday. One explosion in the Tahrir Square area of the city was particularly severe, leaving about 19 dead, several others injured and with much destruction in the vicinity. 

That day was the first working day after the holidays for the Eid festival and by late afternoon after the explosions, there was an air of normalcy in several parts of the city apart from a few added check-points and some road closures that caused traffic delays. The resilience of the people is remarkable, despite the reality which make their lives consistently insecure and unsafe.

JRS temporarily suspended some of their planned activities in the Damascus area on July 2nd for security reasons. All activities were resumed the following day. 

About ninety children in each of the JRS Centres are engaged in daily creative learning activities like singing, music, theatre, puzzle-play, handicraft, mathematics and more. Women continue to attend their literacy programmes at both Centres. At the Alberto Hurtado Staff Care Centre in Bab Tuma a variety of workshops and trainings continue.

In Homs, all three JRS centres are abuzz with activities for children. Last week children had their evaluations and had the opportunity to join their parents in playing a variety of games organised by the staff. Besides bonding with their children, the parents were also given an opportunity to evaluate the behavioural patterns of their child after coming to the JRS Centre. 

Aleppo is still in the eye of the storm. There is however, a relative though uneasy calm. The electricity and water supply situation here continues to be extremely difficult and many people have limited access.

 The JRS Team there has put in added efforts to respond to the needs of those affected in the eastern part of the city particularly in Jabal Badro, Al Sakhour and Deir Wartan areas.

The field kitchen continues to provide hot food to the needy in the western areas. Food kits are provided to the affected in the eastern areas. JRS staff also serve those in the area with needs assessments and registrations of affected families. 

- Fr Cedric Prakash SJ, MENA Regional Advocacy & Communications Officer (with inputs from: Nihal Myassar, Communications Manager, JRS Syria)

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Martina Bezzini