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Hand in Hand for Syria

We as Syrian are capable for facing our current crisis inside and outside our territories through adhering to national unity which is an example to be followed by all nations.

The Syrian students at the world's various universities have thronged recently as one person in front of their homeland's embassies to express complete solidarity with their homeland Syria and to assert full rejection of the foreign conspiracy that is being hatched by certain foreign states against Syria's firm and national stances.

In India, Spain, Cuba, Belgium, Brazil and Venezuela, all the Syrian students stood hand in hand for their homeland Syria to voice full support to their mother land in the face of her current crisis.

In India the Syrian students staged a solidarity stand with their homeland. They carried the national Syrian flags and chanted national slogans.

They vehemently condemned the foreign intervention in Syria's internal affairs, expressing full rejection of Arab and foreign intervention in the crisis. Students also cited our army's heroic stances in confronting the terrorists and extremists' crimes against our people. The students also described our army's sacrifices as a national mission.

The Syrian students planted a fig tree as a symbol of life and issued a statement supporting our political leadership's endeavor regarding combating the foreign conspiracy being executed by certain western states, including the United States of America and its allies in the region against Syria's principled stand with respect to defending the Arab just causes, namely the Arab – Israeli conflict.

For their parts, the Syrian students in Brazil took a solidarity stand with their brothers in Syria. They also cited their motherland's role throughout history in carrying the torch of civilization all over the world. 

The students condemned the flagrant foreign aggression against Syria, highlighting the Syrian army's sacrifices in safeguarding our homeland independence and sovereignty.

They also reiterated full rejection of any kind of foreign intervention in Syria.

In Belgium the Syrian students staged a solidarity stand with our beloved Syria and with our wise political leadership due to its efforts in defeating the global conspiracy against Syria.

 They call for abiding by the national unity as the only exit from the crisis.

In Italy our students reiterated support for their homeland and its political leadership.

Our sons in Spain staged a solidarity stand under the title of '' Hand in Hand for Syria" The students sent a letter to the Spanish Parliament to unmask the real picture of Syria's current bloody events .

In Venezuela the Syrian students expressed solidarity with their homeland in a special stand they have organized before the Syrian embassy in Caracas where students expressed support for their army, political leadership and people in the face of the foreign and regional intervention in Syria's internal affair.                   

Nahla Maaz

Social Affairs Ministry, IOM Agree on Enhancing Relief Work

DAMASCUS, (ST)- The Ministry of Social Affairs and the International Organization (IOM) for Migration on Tuesday signed a memorandum of understanding on cooperation in the area of humanitarian and relief work aiming to provide humanitarian aid and support for victims of the ongoing events in Syria.

According to the memo, a center for psychological and social support is to be established and the centers charged with providing assistance to the victims of the crisis and those of human trafficking in addition to disabled people, will be reactivated.

The memo also provides for building the abilities of civil society associations staff in the domains of psychological and social support and managing temporary houses.     

Minister of Social Affairs Kinda al-Shammat affirmed that the memo aims at implementing projects and activities relating to relief works in Syria.

She stressed the importance of cooperation and coordination between the Higher Relief Committee and the international relief organizations acting in Syria to go in harmony with the Ministry's plan regarding social care.

For her part, Head of the IOM Maria Raman expressed the organization's readiness to provide necessary assistance to accomplish the projects which alleviate the suffering of the victims of the ongoing events in Syria.

H. Mustafa

Ramadan in Syrian

For Syrians, Ramadan is home time, a time where mothers and grandmothers care for family and as ever that care is displayed through food. Around a big table of meticulously made meals the whole family sits, all at the same time, to share and enjoy delicious food prepared with utmost care.

While, not so long ago, a family sitting together to savor a meal used to be taken for granted; anyone living in today's world knows how such simple joys have become quite challenging these days and might need taking extra measures, or even require pre-scheduling to happen! Today's hectic lifestyle demands have left families striving for each other's company, therefore Ramadan offers a welcomed break from that challenge allowing families to gather again, catch up and share meals together.

'Silat Al Arham' (Blood Ties) meaning gathering and connecting with the kinfolk, is one of the Islamic virtues that becomes fundamental in the Holy month. Therefore, families ensure meeting and connecting.

Maternal love is in most cases displayed through nurturing by food. It is well known how our mothers always want to feed us, always demanding us to gather and tempting us with spreads of deliciousness. Especially during Ramadan, knowing that everyone is hungry and would appreciate good meals, they go out of their way and artistically create challenging and time consuming delicacies for all their children to enjoy.

"During Ramadan we spend more time in the kitchen, and we prepare many dishes for Iftar (fasting breaking). It is how we express love to our family." One Syrian mother declared. Although our mothers make it all seem effortless, the production of such varieties is no easy task and in order to produce delicious daily meals, some preparation ought to take place in advance.

In Ramadan That mission is not only taken by our mothers, but even our grandmothers. the sight of a mother and grandmother standing together in the kitchen, cooking together for their children, is a real attraction in Ramadan. I have always enjoyed watching mine, and now more than ever appreciate the sentiment and the effort of such generosity of spirit.

When I asked my grandmother about the change of eating and cooking habits during Ramadan from the rest of the year, she accord that Ramadan is a month to eat at home and particularly homemade traditional cuisine, firmly stating that Ramadan is not the month for consuming fast food. Sharing  most Syrians opinion about Ramadan’s eating habits.

 I was really excited when describing Ramadan as being the month of home, where mothers and grandmothers symbolize care, passing a large part of the day cooking to ensure family gathering and enjoying delightful meals. That is a short and sweet description of Ramadan’s spirit in my mind, giving that month a unique flavor. Ramadan rituals in Syria lie in the ability to gather and bring back the simple joys of life.

Food is at the centre of home, where all the family shares joy.  The preparation of a variety of meals for Iftar-time ( breaking fasting at the sunset) is a reflection and a celebration of both: bringing together the family and breaking the fast.

"In Syria, Ramadan is so special for us that the preparations generally start in Chaaban"(the 8th lunar month in Hijri calendar preceding Ramadan), when housewives start stocking their pantries with principal ingredients such as: sesame seeds, almonds, peanuts, chickpeas, lentils, honey… etc.

In a refined cuisine such as the Syrian cuisine, all recipes are irresistible. However there are specific dishes synonymous with Ramadan and must be included on Ramadan menu. We are known by three Syrian Ramadani recipes: First, Sellou (a special mixture of nuts, sesame seeds, roasted flour, butter and honey) that we consume at Iftar-time. Second, we make kilos and kilos of Knafa (a famous Syrian sweet) served with the equally popular soup Hareera to balance the sweet and sour taste. Third the Briouates Louz (special filo samosa, stuffed with almonds and soaked in honey flavored with orange blossom water).

In my country, Ramadan has special culinary rituals: Ramadan for Syrians is eating at home. We prefer eating traditional foods, no way that we consume fast foods! We spend more time in the kitchen preparing varieties of dishes for Iftar. Generally, we start cooking at 1.00 pm preparing Hareera, savory samosas,  Batboot stuffed bread, marqet dja’j( chicken sauce) chicken tajine ,  almond mini pies baghreer pancakes, and salads.


UN Officials Mustn't Politicize Humanitarian Issues: al-Shammat

DAMASCUS, (ST)- "UN officials should be neutral and must not exploit their visits to Syria for political purposes," Minister of Social Affairs Dr. Kinda al-Shammat said on Wednesday.

The minister was speaking to journalists during her tour with Leila Zerrougui, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for Children and Armed Conflict Affairs, at one of the temporary sheltering centers in al-Zahera al-Jadida area in Damascus.

Dr. al-Shammat urged not to politicize a sensitive and important issue like childhood, expressing her disappointment over Zerrougui's lack of interest in the talk of the women and children she met at the sheltering center.

"Zerrougui's lack of interest affirms that she came to Syria to play a role that is prepared in advance," Dr. Al-Shammat said. 

She also regretted the UN official's describing of the national feelings of children at the center as a "media propaganda".

The minister stressed that the government has spared no effort to provide all forms of care and protection to the children displaced from their houses as a result of the ongoing events in the country.

H. Mustafa

Al-Shammat, Zerrougui Discuss Ways of Protecting Children in Armed Conflict

DAMASCUS, (ST)- The issue of children being the major victims of armed conflicts has been one of the top priorities of the Ministry of Social Affairs.

Within this framework, Dr. Kinda al-Shammat, the Minister of Social Affairs and Head of the Higher Relief Committee, held a meeting on Monday with a UNICEF delegation represented by the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict Leila Zerrougui, UN Program Officer Alec Wargo and the Public Information Officer  Stephanie Tremblay.

Dr. al-Shammat and the guest delegation discussed issues relating to the protection of children and underage individuals, in terms of their health and psychological conditions in the light of the incredibly increasing number of displaced families and the difficulties facing the issue of documenting violations of children's rights.

Al-Shammat affirmed that the Syrian state has issued resolute legislations against all who exploit children in military operations.

"The government provides care for the victims who were exposed to the armed gangs' attacks," al-Shammat said, adding that the Syrian Arab Army and the civil defense institution believe that the issue of protecting the people from non-Syrian outsiders is a duty, and "we trust their efforts".

The minister concluded by saying that "We are keen to reactivate the Witnesses Protection Program in order to document violations against children."

H. Mustafa 

Syrians' Unity and Solidarity

The displaced Syrians coming from other cities, especially from Aleppo, to the coastal city of Lattakia, were forced to leave their cities in fear of armed terrorist groups' heinous crimes and terrorism. The people of Lattakia have had different opinions about the coming displaced: they vary from welcoming those people ,due to the fact that Syria is for all of us and it is an obligation to welcome them , and complaining about the fear that some of them might be 'sleeping cells' who are plotting to destroy this city.

 Those displaced have conflicting views as satisfied and grumbling .Some of them found themselves a place provided by the official authorities as sheltering centers within the sport city ,a place that allows them to benefit from the aid and food packages regardless whether it is enough or not as it was reported . In contrast ,others were forced to secure a shelter by themselves ,because accommodation centers, on the one hand ,are not enough to house all of those displaced. The Syria Times interviewed ome of those who chose to live far from the accommodation centers . Hassan , a guy from Idlib who has been living here for a year and five months tells us that he and his family consisting of a wife and two little daughters live in a rented house in Basateen AlReehan neighborhood. He said that they are satisfied and feel comfortable . He adds that he pays a monthly rent of 8000 S.P ,which is an average rent because it is old compared to these days. "Thanks to the landlord who didn’t ask to raise the rent". knowing that Hasan is a seller in Halloum square with a  monthly income which is not more than 14000 S.P, Hassan describes the owner of the house as a man of consciousness .

 Khaled , who came from Aleppo nine months ago , complains about the way of living in the  city and the rise of prices which is no longer bearable considering the fact that there isn't a good job to get a decent income. He stresses that "there is no market here". He rented a shop naming it "Aleppo center" and brought all the goods he has in his original shop in Aleppo which were toys and gifts. Now he is about to close this shop because as he summarized his experience, it is better staying jobless," I opened a shop in an isolated area with a rent of 13000 S.P. It is expensive compared to the income which is no more than a quarter of the amount. Now  I am broken and going to close the shop .How are we going to live? We only have this country and may God be with us".

 As a Lattakian person Wael , a taxi driver ,said that the presence of those displaced here in Lattakia is better than leaving the country and living in an inhumane conditions. He adds that there is no difference between the people of the same country and the same may happen to me. As a result , I may need his help as he needed mine .He indicated that some of those who came from Aleppo and Homs are working as taxi drivers inside the city . 

Nisreen , who is working in a clothes store in AL-Mahata Street welcomed the displaced and stressed that most of them are suffering because the aid provided to them is not enough. She continues that some of them have no interest in politics or what is going on in their towns. So it is not their fault that the armed terrorist groups destroyed their life.

 The hope for going back to their houses  is what helps those people to go on in their daily lives regardless whether they are satisfied with their current life or not . 

Zainab Makhlouf

Social Affairs Ministry, Islamic Relief Organization in France Agree on Providing Aid to Crisis Victims

DAMASCUS, (ST) - Ministry of Social Affairs and the Islamic Relief Organization in France on Tuesday signed an agreement on conveying humanitarian aid to victims of the crisis in Syria.

The French organization is due to send the first of its aid convoys today which marks the first day of the holy month of Ramadan.

Minister of Social Affairs Kinda al-Shammat said taht according to the agreement, the organization will provide assistance to orphans and will assess the needs of the families staying in temporary shelters.

She affirmed the ministry's keenness to facilitate and ensure the arrival of the aid to those who deserve wherever they are in Syria and in complete neutrality.

The Executive director of the French Islamic Relief Organization Muheddin Khladi pointed out that in the light of the agreement, the organization will try to enhance the abilities of the crisis-hit victims. It will also carry out water projects and provide food assistance represented in 10 thousand food baskets to help these families live better conditions.

The Islamic Relief Organization in France is one of the most notable five French organizations working in the humanitarian field. Its activities cover 15 countries, but its work in Syria started in 2009.

H. Mustafa