04 Dec 2020
By: Begüm Başaran

"I would like to advise anyone in the same situation as I am, not to give up or lose hope, because no matter how long the road is, to arrive late, is better than never arriving. You have to trust that all will be well at the end.” These are the words of Abdulselem, a Syrian migrant now living in Şanlıurfa, Turkey. 

Abdulselem lost both his legs and his arm in a bomb attack in Syria in 2012. Although it took him 8 months to recover from the tragic event, his life has never been the same ever since. Escalating conflict in his village of Suluk, Syria, forced him to migrate to Turkey in 2014. Abdulselem and his family settled in Şanlıurfa, where life was a little bit more stable but not exactly comfortable. He could not work to earn a living and his son passed away a few years after settling in Turkey. The trauma from the conflict and the loss of his son brought a lot of grief and torment to the family.  

Despite his disability, Adbulselem felt that he could work and still earn a living to support his family. “I was working as a construction worker before the attack, and after I came to Turkey I was hoping to work but my psychological state did not allow me to do anything,” he explained. IOM has been providing psychological support to Adbuleselem through the activities of the Mobile Psychosocial Teams. “With the psychological support I am receiving from IOM, I feel more positive about my life despite my disability, and I have began to look for different kinds of jobs I can do with my condition,” said Adbuleselem. For the past year Adbuleselem has been collecting 
cardboard boxes from residential areas and selling them as recycled material to earn money to support his family. 

However, the outbreak of COVID-19 put a halt to Adbuleselem’s. work as the lockdowns prevented people from freely moving around the cities. The lockdowns affected him economically as he now did not have any income to provide food for his family. “I have seven children, and I could not even provide food for them to eat, this caused further psychologically distress and affected the progress I had already made so far,” he expressed. 

Many people found themselves in Adbuleselem’s situation where they could not support themselves financially during the lockdowns. As part of the COVID-19 Relief program, IOM through the Migrant Information and Coordination Center, in Şanlıurfa provided 2000 hygiene kits and 5000 food baskets to the Şanlıurfa Metropolitan Municipality to support vulnerable migrants and members of the host community. This collaboration with the municipality and local authorities helped to provide aid to vulnerable members of the community such as Adbuleselem. 

“It was a great relief when my family received the food and hygiene supplies during the COVID-19 period. It is valuable to know that someone is thinking of us,” said Abdulselem. 

In addition to the food and hygiene supplies, IOM and Metropolitan Municipality of Şanlıurfa decided to provide Abdulselem with an electric wheelchair which will help him to move around easier whilst he does job. Abdulselem is just one example of a vulnerable member of the society that has benefited from the support provided by IOM and the Şanlıurfa Metropolitan Municipality through the Migrant Information and Coordination Center.