LONDON: A new village housing 500 Syrian families, who have been forced to live in tents and other informal accommodation due to last month’s devastating earthquake and the 12 years of conflict, was opened on Friday.
The town was opened by Action For Humanity, the parent charity of Syria Relief.
The Massa Village, in Al-Baab district of Northwest Syria, has already welcomed hundreds of people who due to move into their new homes.
The village is named after 10-year-old Massa Al-Najjar, a Syrian girl who was killed in last month’s earthquake and was the niece of Yarub Al-Asfari, AFH’s deputy country director for Syria.
The UK-based charity had already built 500 homes prior to this in the development and aims to build a further 1,000, for another 6,000 people, once it has secured funding from the public.
A magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck parts of Turkiye and Syria on Feb. 6, killing more than 52,000 people — the vast majority in Turkiye — with 7,200 deaths recorded in Syria.
The quake and resulting aftershocks caused about $5.1 billion in direct physical damage in Syria, the World Bank estimated earlier this month, some 10 percent of Syria’s GDP.
“The past 12 years have been heartbreaking for the people of Syria, so many people have been killed and injured and lost their homes, and sadly, so many people lost their home multiple times,” Othman Moqbel, AFH’s chief executive, said.
“In addition to this, virtually all of the internally displaced persons in northwest Syria — 98 percent — were displaced by the devastating earthquakes on Feb. 6, and, sadly, 89 percent of these families had already been displaced at least once prior to this by the 12 years of conflict.
“So many people have to call a tent home, (so) we have built them proper homes, 50 square meters in size, each featuring a kitchen, a bathroom, bedrooms and living rooms.
“Adequate shelter is a basic human right, we hope this village will give hope to the affected Syrian population, where now more than 1.5 million people are residing in temporary shelters following February’s earthquakes.”