Framework

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A displaced Syrian woman comforts her 1-month old grandchild, Fatima, in a stone house near Kafer Rouma, in ancient ruins used as temporary shelter by families who have fled the heavy fighting and shelling in the countryside of Idlib province.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Associated Press

Women cook breakfast as children play in the ruins now used as the family's home.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Associated Press

A girl walks upstairs from her family's cave house near Kafer Rouma, Syria. Some 2 million people have fled the country since the uprising began in March 2011, according to the United Nations. More than 4 million Syrians also have been internally displaced.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Associated Press

A man gets a shave as a woman looks on.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Associated Press

The families take what they can carry when they flee to the ruins.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Associated Press

A displaced Syrian family poses for a photo inside a cave near Kafer Rouma. "We never thought we'd have to live with our families in old ruins and caves just to be safe," said one villager.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Associated Press

A woman looks up from cooking dinner as children play in the fading light.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Associated Press

These people are among the dozens who have found shelter amid the cluster of lichen-covered ruins in northwestern Syria. The ancient buildings -- usually houses, churches and baths -- were abandoned as trade routes changed.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Associated Press

A girl who lives among the ruins makes her bed.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Associated Press

A boy plays with his baby brother.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Associated Press

Men and boys gather around a water pipe and talk at sunset.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Associated Press

A Syrian youth plays with his pet amid the ruins of Kafer Rouma.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Associated Press

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KAFER ROUMA, Syria (AP) — Looking weary and malnourished, the baby girl could hardly open her eyes.

Fatima was born just a month ago amid the ancient ruins outside Kafer Rouma, a village in northern Syria that has come under shelling by government forces during the country’s civil war. Her family fled their home in the village to the giant stone blocks and centuries-old walls so that Fatima’s mother could give birth in relative safety.

“We left because of the planes dropping TNT barrels and because of the shelling,” said Fatima’s father, who agreed to give only his nickname of Abu Ahmad for fear of reprisal.

Some 2 million people have fled Syria since the country’s uprising against President Bashar Assad erupted in March 2011, according to the United Nations. Over that time, more than 4 million Syrians also have been internally displaced within the country, including Abu Ahmad, his wife and six children.

Abu Ahmad’s family is among dozens of people who have found shelter amid a cluster of lichen-covered ruins outside Kafer Rouma, in one of several dozen ancient settlements that dot northwestern Syria. The ancient buildings — usually houses, churches and baths — date from the 1st to the 7th century and were abandoned as trade routes changed.

On a recent day, Abu Ahmad held a bottle filled with a greenish liquid to feed his baby daughter. It was water mixed with herbs because there was no milk, he said. There was also no running water and no electricity. Basic food and medicine were lacking.

“I pray to God to curse this pig [Assad] for making us live in caves like in the ancient times,” said a woman, also named Fatima, who said she fled to the ruins with her seven children. “Look at us,” she said, giving only her first name out of fear.

The villagers moved their property from their old houses to the new ones. They brought with them what they could carry — pots and pans, stoves, flashlights, plastic tarps. Children scamper among the household goods and ancient stones.

The Syrian army has shelled the ruins from time to time, although no one was killed in the bombardment.

“We never thought we’d have to live with our families in old ruins and caves just to be safe,” said one villager.

1 Comment

  1. October 10, 2013, 2:58 am

    So sad to think about what some babies must endure…pray for peace today…

    By: london

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