A Syrian teenager describes her escape from war-torn Aleppo

International Rescue Committee's picture
Posted by International Rescue Committee on
Thu, 12/22/2016

Thousands of children in war-torn Aleppo are trapped without food, water or medical care as the city collapses from many months of intense aerial bombing.

The carnage took the lives of 16-year-old Hiba’s* parents and sister, but against all odds she was able to escape to Jordan with her three younger brothers.

The war in Syria spares no one.  Many children have lost their families – left to embark on a journey to safety alone without any protection.  Hiba and her siblings waited three months at the International Rescue Committee center for unaccompanied minors in Azraq while aid workers took the steps necessary to reunited them with relatives already in Jordan.

Hiba shared her heartrending story with us:

In 2011, the war in Syria started.  We left our neighborhood in Aleppo for another we thought was safe.  But a missile hit the bakery where my dad worked and he died.  We spent two years mourning; there wasn’t much joy left in our lives.

But my mother made us feel like life could be normal again, and that there’s hope in this world.  She took us to another area, which was safer.  We stayed there for two years.  We could come and go whenever we wanted.  There was a strong sense of community; people were united.  You would feel as comfortable out on the streets as in your own home.  I used to go to school also; I studied until 10th grade.

I have fond memories of my father; I consider our time together to be the best days of my life.  I remember one time—it was during the month of Ramadan—after Iftar [breaking the fast meal]—my dad decided to take us on a trip.  He took use to the amusement park and we had such a good time.

On the way home, he opened the car’s rooftop and my sister and I stuck our heads out of the window.  We stayed up until 4am!  Imagine, it was that safe that we could stay up so late and nobody would bother us.

The bombing

It was Feb. 21.  My youngest sister, Ghazal, was playing with her friend out on the street, just in front of my aunt’s shop.  I was in our house alone.  My mother was having coffee at our neighbor’s house and my brothers were out playing with their friends.

When the bombing happened, I passed out because a door fell on me. A man pulled me out, and when I woke up, everything had changed.  My home was destroyed.

I went running to look for my mother, and I found her and my two brothers. My mother started screaming and went looking for my sister.  I was told to stay behind.

A second bombing killed my mother, along with my sister, who was only in first grade.  At 12am, we found my third brother alive. 

The Students Rebuild Healing Classrooms Challenge, in partnership with the International Rescue Committee and Global Nomads Group helped Syrian youth from conflict areas recover from crisis and grow into happy, healthy adults. The Bezos Family Foundation matched every pinwheel you made and mailed in with $2--up to $400,000--to support IRC's Healing Classrooms program.