ACTNews, HACIPASA, Hatay – There are two neighboring villages on the Turkey-Syria border. One of them are named Hacipasa, the Turkish village, and the other is Azmarin, in the land of Syria. These two villages are separated only by the Asi River, also known as Oronte, which is probably less than twelve-meter wide. Before the Syrian crisis erupted, these two neighboring villages were very close.
But now, in Azmarin, there is only emptiness, while Hacipasa is now filled with thousands of Syrian refugees.
In the early phase of the Syrian conflict, in 2011, Hacipasa was known as an easiest gateway from Idlib, Syria, to Turkey. In previous years, thousands of Syrian families chose to cross the river to Hacipasa to seek shelter in the nearest refugee camps.
After the visit of Aksi Cepat Tanggap (ACT)’s SOS Syria XIV in mid-February, we finally returned to this small village.
The volunteers from Indonesia Humanitarian Center (IHC) – ACT came bringing hundreds of boxes of food supplies. Insha Allah, these boxes will be to supply the needs of the Syrian refugees for a month.
“Alhamdulillah, we were able to return to this small village on near the Turkey-Syria border. No less than 210 packages were brought from the IHC in Reyhanli. There’s some kind of longing to revisit Hacipasa,” said Firdaus Guritno, Coordinator of IHC – ACT.
Hacipasa, land for the stranded Syrian families
From the IHC store house in Reyhanli, it took at least 90 minutes to get there, through the roads outside Reyhanli and then turned east. After a winding road through the mountain, the team finally arrived at Hacipasa. Administratively, Hacipasa is a part of Altınözü District, Hatay Province, Turkey.
Before the crisis happened, Hacipasa was dwelled by hundreds of Turkish families. Nowadays, with the total of 550 families, the majority of them are Syrian families. There are 300 Syrian families in Hacipasa now,” explained Ahmet, the Hacipasa Village Chief.
The majority of the villagers are farmers. They cultivate the fertile land and harvest the produce.
Although they are safer in Hacipasa, becoming refugees promises no better life. “Most of the refugee families in this village can only rent some patches of land to cultivate or work for other people’s farm. Their earning is not that much, and they still have to save for their housing rent,” Ahmet added.
The remote location of Hacipasa, quite far away from big cities, makes the village somewhat alienated. Ahmet admitted that humanitarian aid rarely enters the village.
“Since 2018, the volunteers from Indonesia are the first to come here to bring food donation. Alhamdulillah, such donation is being urgently needed. Thank you. May the good will also be given to you in Indonesia,” said Ahmet.
The distribution of the hundreds of packages was done directly by Ahmet, with the help of a number of ACT volunteers. “For the second time that we are here, we are able to bring happiness for Syrian refugees in Hacipasa. From IHC – ACT in Reyhanli, hundreds of packages were prepared, consisting of sugar, salt, olive oil, beans, bread flour, even sanitary supplies,” explained Guritno.
Since before the Syrian civil war, the villagers of Hacipasa and Azmarin had a very close bond of brotherhood.
“This brotherhood is everlasting, warming and strengthening the people of Hacipasa. They openly received the Syrian refugees, welcoming them in their small village. Insha Allah, the same form of solidarity has also been done by Indonesia for Hacipasa.”
Until this news is reported, the distribution of aid packages from IHC – ACT is still being done every day. Guritno said that the distribution of the packages targets Syrian families in orphanages, refugee camps, and other villages.
“Alhamdulillah, until Thursday (12/3), 700 aid packages have been distributed. We aim to be able to bring 1,000 packages for 1,000 Syrian families,” concluded Guritno.