Because of poverty, IDP children are deprived of Eid clothes

Low turnout at clothing stores before Eid al-Adha in Idlib city – June 24, 2023 (Enab Baladi/Anas al-Khouli)

Low turnout at clothing stores before Eid al-Adha in Idlib city – June 24, 2023 (Enab Baladi/Anas al-Khouli)


Enab Baladi – Hani Karazi

“My father promised me last year to buy me new clothes, but he hasn’t bought me anything yet,” said the child Mohamed al-Sayed, expressing his lack of Eid clothes, just like thousands of children in the displacement camps of northern Syria.

Most children in northwestern Syria, including Mohamed, who lives with his family in the Aaidoun camp in the Idlib countryside, were born and raised in the camps. They are unfamiliar with their villages or towns and have ingrained in their minds the image of Eid in the camp, thereby being deprived of Eid joy, especially since most parents are unable to provide the essential needs for the child during Eid, namely new clothes.

Mohamed’s father (34 years old), who works in collecting scrap, told Enab Baladi that Eid in the camps opens many wounds, “especially when this Eid comes and we are unable to even buy new clothes for our children.”

He added that the hardest feeling for a father is being unable to bring joy to his child’s face and only being able to offer promises.

“Last year my son Mohamed asked me to buy new clothes, but I only had enough money for bread and some basic food. So, I promised him I would buy them next year, hoping our situation would improve. Unfortunately, our living conditions are worsening day by day, and I find it hard to look my child in the eye because I feel he sees me as a liar,” he continued.

A virtual shopping tour

Despite the simplicity of the camps and the poor service conditions in them, most camps have markets selling various goods, including Eid clothes, putting parents in an embarrassing position in front of their children who ask them to take them to the market to buy Eid clothes when they can barely provide basic necessities.

Zainab Bakir from the Kafrain camp in Maarat Misrin in the Idlib countryside said, “In recent days, my son has asked me several times to take him to the market to buy Eid clothes, but I kept stalling because I couldn’t afford food, let alone clothes for him and his three siblings.”

Zainab, a cleaner at an organization, works to secure her children’s essential needs after her husband’s death.

Zainab (40 years old) told Enab Baladi that after her children’s insistence, she thought of an idea. She took them to the market, entered the shops, and let them try on the clothes, making them happy.

“I didn’t buy them and pretended that the quality was bad or the design was not elegant,” said Zainab, adding that after a long tour in the market, the children got tired and asked to return home. “This way, I made them live the experience of trying on Eid clothes even if just for fun.”

Equivalent to a week’s salary 

Eid clothes prices have risen significantly above the capacity of the displaced people in the camps in northern Syria, similar to other areas, making it difficult for parents to buy new clothes for their children, especially those with more than one child.

Abdul Wahab al-Ridwan, a resident of the Zaytoun camp in Azaz in the Aleppo countryside, works in a car repair workshop. He complains about not being able to buy new clothes for his four children as he earns 75 Turkish lira daily, equivalent to 450 lira weekly, considering he takes Fridays off, which is insufficient to meet his basic needs.

Abdul Wahab told Enab Baladi that after much insistence from his children, his wife asked to go to the market to check the prices. “Accordingly, we will decide whether to buy Eid clothes for our children or not.” She was shocked by the prices; buying low-quality clothes for one child (a shirt, pants, shoes) costs about 450 lira, equivalent to a week’s wages.

Abdul Wahab added that he couldn’t buy clothes for one child and leave the others empty-handed. Purchasing clothes for his four children would require a whole month’s wages of continuous work, “which means we will open our mouths to air.” This unfortunate decision led him not to buy new clothes for them this Eid, either, leaving him with great sorrow. “For four years, my children haven’t rejoiced in wearing Eid clothes, which they seem to have forgotten.”

Stalls as a viable option

The exorbitant rise in clothing prices has made their purchase restricted to the wealthier segments, leaving the children of the less fortunate bereft of new clothes on Eid, with their joy limited to some cheap sweets and toys.

Through monitoring clothing prices in the camps, medium-quality shirts or blouses for children aged 5-10 years range between 150 and 250 Turkish lira, pants between 200 and 300 lira, and shoes between 250 and 350 lira.

The child Mohamed al-Sayed (6 years old), a resident of the Aaidoun camp, cried bitterly when his friend Yahya Hassan told him that his father bought him Eid clothes, while he is still waiting for the promise his father made since last year.

Enab Baladi spoke with Yahya Hassan’s father to understand how he bought Eid clothes for his children while his neighbor “Abu Mohamed al-Sayed” in the adjacent tent was unable to buy clothes for his children for the fourth Eid in a row.

Abu Yahya told Enab Baladi, “While returning from work, I came across a vendor selling children’s clothes at cheap prices. I hurried towards it. Though the clothes were of very poor quality, I decided to buy them anyway because a child doesn’t understand the quality of the clothes. The important thing is to wear new clothes on Eid. So I bought clothes for my three children at a total cost of 450 Turkish lira, with each piece costing 75 lira.”

To encourage passersby to buy, the vendor, selling new clothes made of jeans or regular fabric at a market in Salqin in the Idlib countryside, loudly calls out, “Any piece for kids for 75 Turkish lira,” drawing a crowd of parents and their children who choose suitable clothes for Eid in an atmosphere of mutual joy.

Umm Mustafa al-Badawi, a displaced person in the Ajami camp in Salqin, said that the clothes on the stalls are outdated and of very poor quality. They are made of nylon threads, causing allergies and increased sweating in children, especially during play. Additionally, their colors often fade when washed, “but we have no other choice.”

Painful promises and psychological impact

Under harsh conditions, many parents resort to making false promises to their children as a way to comfort them, hoping they forget about their requests. However, a child can never forget a promise from their parents, no matter the size, and if not fulfilled, the child loses trust in their parents.

Social researcher Wadha al-Othman believes that many parents are forced to make false promises to their children because they cannot buy Eid clothes or fulfill their other requests. Additionally, a child does not have enough awareness to understand the difficult conditions their parents are going through or the differences in living standards among people. She pointed out that repeated false promises make children lose trust in their parents in the future and not believe them even if they tell the truth. At the same time, the incapability to meet their children’s requests leaves a harsh psychological impact on the parents.

Al-Othman suggested that parents should try to fulfill at least one request for their children instead of making false promises, such as buying a shirt to be worn with old pants and shoes. They should also explain to their children that when their financial situation improves, they will buy them a complete outfit next Eid.

The situation for the residents of the camps worsens year after year, especially with the suspension of assistance to most camps and the rising prices of various goods. In a report on June 12, the Syria Response Coordination Group (SRCG) stated that residents of 918 camps in northwestern Syria do not receive food aid, and 437 camps receive aid intermittently.

Currently, northwestern Syria has 1904 camps hosting 2,027,656 displaced people, with children making up 54% of the population. More than 1133 camps suffer from the suspension of free bread distribution, and 991 camps completely lack water, adding to the burdens of the displaced people who are already striving to secure food and water, while buying clothes is beyond consideration for most of them.


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