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After the earthquake: ILO projects contribute to recovery in Syria

The International Labour Organization (ILO) is helping communities in the city of Aleppo to rebuild after the earthquake in 2023.

Article | 06 February 2024
ALEPPO (ILO News) – It’s been a year since devastating earthquakes ravaged southern and central Türkiye and northern Syria, leaving profound scars on the region's landscape and its people. In Syria, these earthquakes compounded existing challenges, caused by over 12 years of conflict, creating what can only be described as a "crisis within a crisis."

The ILO was among the first UN agencies to go to the damaged areas in the northern city of Aleppo, to carry out damage assessment and launch early-recovery projects, like the removal of debris and rehabilitation of schools. The ILO employed Syrians in these projects, like 23-year old Latifa Mohammad, a young architect who had been struggling to find decent work, and Ahmad Rukbi who has special needs and who has always struggled to secure a job to meet the needs of his three small children.

The earthquakes turned the lives of Latifa and 26-year-old Ahmad upside down.

Latifa recalls the night of the earthquake, when she and her family were sleeping and woke up to feel the ground shaking beneath them. She never thought at the time that two months later she would find a work opportunity with the ILO debris removal project. Hired as a site engineer, Latifa gained invaluable work experience in the field. This experience, in turn, helped her land a position as a safety assistant with an INGO.

Despite facing substantial communication challenges due to his special needs, Ahmad Rukbi has defied the odds and broken barriers . The night the earthquake hit, Ahmad and his family were forced to spend a few days on the street. With nowhere else to go, Ahmad decided to return to his home, even though the building was damaged. He was grateful that he and his family survived, but he still struggled to provide for them. That is until he begun working for an ILO project for 50 straight days, the longest he has ever been able to work in one place.

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While Ahmad’s story showcases the impact of inclusion and empowerment, Latifa’s story inspires change for young women in the face of challenges. Both stories show how opportunities can profoundly shape lives and instil hope for a better future.