Life was better here, the father explained as we settled ourselves on thin mattresses in their living room. The floor was bare; save for a blue UNHCR straw mat, which formed the centerpiece of the dark room, a memento from the road.
Words cannot describe the hopelessness I felt emanating from these camps, and I am not surprised that so many families decide to take the next step and leave Syria altogether. If we could just get access and reach them, it might not solve the conflict, but it would lessen the burden for families who have lost everything and ease the pressure on neighbouring countries.
They entered through separate doors, then sat around a u-shaped table in a room wrought with tension, and spoke to each other
An eerie calm descends over Al Waer, an outer suburb of Homs, as we enter an area that is home to some 400,000 people caught in the middle of on-going conflict. I am part of a joint mission, including UNICEF, WFP, OCHA, UNDSS, and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, here to access the humanitarian situation.
It was the city known as the "capital of the revolution" by rebels fighting Syria's President Assad, one of the first cities
Amnesty has recorded at least 17 incidents where Syria's armed opposition groups have deliberately targeted journalists and media workers, but the bulk of killings, detentions and cases of gruesome mistreatment still come at the hands of government forces.
In effect the Westerners want to take sides in a multi-dimensional war, with no guarantee that their chosen protégées will prevail. Most likely, by arming the rebels they will give carte blanche to the Russians and Iranians to reinforce their support for Assad and his allies, including the Lebanese Shia faction Hezballah.
This is not a simple war, and there are no simple aid solutions. As the UN marks the registration of the millionth Syrian refugee this week, having fled material destitution on top of living in constant fear, it's clear that the status quo cannot be an option.
Amid Ongoing Conflict in Syria, Women Heads of Households Struggle to Support and Protect Their Children
In collective shelters for displaced families, in quieter parts of the city, I witnessed grief over life that has been lost. I met families who have lost their belongings and a more dignified life. But I also saw resilience and a strong sense of community.
I walked around to see how children in Homs are living. In a convent that works with children, situated at the end of a line of fully standing buildings and right before the destruction and rubble begins, I was amazed to find children reading books, listening to teachers, drawing pictures and playing games. The drawings on the walls spoke of smiling faces, waving hands, laughter and messages about the need to forgive. A total contrast to the rubble outside that represents so many battered lives.