By: Naba’a – Development Action without Borders

The largest burden during conflict are on mothers, who are responsible for the security of the children and food.

They are six children, the oldest 13 years old, and they all refuse to leave the room where they have been sheltering with their parents in one of the sheltering stations. They are still frightened, despite the fact that more than a week has passed since their arrival in Sidon. Their mother, Ne’mat Qassem is from Abu Al-Aswad [approximately 12 km north of Tyre], from where she fled on foot with her husband and their children when the bombing intensified. Ne’met recounts her story: ‘When the jets dropped the leaflets ordering us to leave the town – which was then followed by intense bombing on the town – I fled the place with my husband and six children on foot toward Sidon. My husband and I were each carrying two of the youngest children. The shelling continued and we ran until we were exhausted. We got lost in the darkness of night and only arrived at Zahrani [approximately 15 north of Abu Al-Aswad] at around 1:30 a.m. At that very moment, the Israeli jets bombed the area we had arrived at, so we ran and squeezed ourselves together to hide in a rainwater ditch by the side of the road. When the bombing stopped, we hurried toward Ghaziyyeh, where we found a car that took us to Sidon. Upon our arrival in Sidon, I had a nervous breakdown due to the panic and exhaustion we experience. I just dropped to the ground unconscious. When I later woke up, I found myself in a hospital. The doctor explained my health condition and that I had unstable blood pressure. He urged me to try and forget what I had gone through and what I had seen during our flight to Sidon. Ne’mat falls silent before continuing: ‘But how can I forget what I saw? All of the ugly and horrifying scenes along the way? And I have no news of my family and my only brother. I don’t know what happened to them or where they are. Our situation is so difficult. May daughter is three years old and my son is only two, and both need diapers. My six year-old son started wetting his bed due to the fear. A fear that has taken control over my children. They sit in the corner of the room and refuse to leave that spot. […] All that I wish for is to return to our village and home, and to know if my family is alright and where they are.’

During wars, it is the women who suffer the bulk of the enormous responsibility for the family.

They are the ones who are under pressure to take care of the whole family, who are responsible for the security of the children, and who must secure clothes and food for them. All this in addition to the many other daily tasks that must still get done. It is a situation that places women under enormous stress. Ne’ema Bashroush is from Qlayleh village, and is a good example of the pressures that women face in war. As she points to her newborn baby, she recounts: “This is my first child. She was only one week old when we escaped from the village. I wished that she would start her life in security and happiness, but it seems that one cannot get what one wishes for. I fled the village with a fear that filled my heart, and with the haunting image that something might happen to my baby refusing to leave my mind. I held her close to my chest to make her feel safe and ran out of the house and away from the village. I could bring neither her diapers nor milk for her with me. The milk was especially important because I couldn’t breastfeed her later. I no longer had milk. It must have dried up due to the fear I went through. The only thing that was important to me was to make sure that my innocent baby was safe.”

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