Syrians Spend 5th Ramadan On Foreign Soil

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SHAFAQNA - Spending their fifth Ramadan on foreign soil, thousands of Syrian refugees in Turkey are observing the holy fasting month of Ramadan with a bittersweet joy as their country still plunges into turmoil.

“At our previous iftar dinners in Syria, we were getting together with my all family members around a table and breaking our fast together,” Syrian refugee, Sevsen Cerat, told Anadolu Agency on Friday, May 19.

“My mother used to host us on the first day of Ramadan,” Cerat says, recalling her memories tearfully: “Now, I am neither together with my mother nor sisters nor my husband.”

The Syrian housewife was describing her feeling after she was forced to leave home and join millions of refugees in Turkey.

Spending her third Ramadan in Suleyman Shah accommodation facility, the 35-year-old Cerat fled the Syrian Capital Damascus with her four children in 2012.

Welcoming the first day of Ramadan, the Syrian mother prepared four types of meals, which included lentil soup, pilaf with chicken meat, salad and kibbeh.

The Syrian family is among 30,000 people who are hosted by the Akcakale accommodation facility.

While women prepare meals, men and children lie outside markets established in the refugee facility, ahead of fast-breaking in the camp.

More than 211,000 people have been killed in Syria since the conflict between the Assad regime and opposition forces began in early 2011, according to UN figures.

Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan and Iraq have taken in more than three million Syrian since the conflict began in 2011, and the refugee crisis has become the worst since World War II.

The number of children displaced inside Syria has risen to nearly 3 million from 920,000 a year ago.

Meanwhile, UNICEF said the number of child refugees has grown to 1.2 million from 260,000 since last year – 425,000 of them under 5 years old.

“Still Happy”

Despite their pitiful conditions, Syrian refugees at the Turkish center are thankful for spending Ramadan peacefully.

Trying to overcome their miserable situation, Syrian refugees are haunted by bad memories.

“My brother was killed during a bombardment [in Deir ez-Zor.] My sister’s son and nephew were also killed. It is not possible to delete them from our memories easily,” says Halsa Tallah, 53, a housewife, marking her third Ramadan in Turkey.

“The thing that we’ve missed most is to be in our homeland and in our homes during Ramadan,” she adds: “Except that, thank God, we are doing OK here.”

Spending his first Ramadan in Turkey after fleeing Syria’s Deir ez-Zor last year, refugee Halil al-Muslim said: “Even just this moment is enough to make me feel better than the days I lived through during the last four years in Syria.

“What else can I say?”

On his part, Mehmet Dikec, an official at the Suleyman Shah Accommodation Facility stated: “Our aim is to make Syrians feel like they are in their home.”

Ramadan, the holiest month in Islamic calendar, started on Thursday, June 18 in Turkey.

In Ramadan, adult Muslims, save the sick and those traveling, abstain from food, drink, smoking and sex between dawn and sunset.

Muslims dedicate their time during the holy month to be closer to Allah through prayers, self-restraint and good deeds.

It is customary for Muslims to spend part of the days during Ramadan studying the Noble Qur’an.

Many men perform i`tikaf (spiritual retreat), spending the last 10 days of the month exclusively in the mosque.

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