In Syria’s war-torn Idlib, travelling barbers bring children relief

A volunteer hairdresser from the International Association for Relief and Development (ONSUR) wearing a face mask and gloves cuts the hair of an internally displaced boy, ahead of the Eid al-Fitr Muslim holiday, amid concerns over the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at an IDP camp in Idlib, Syria

At a soccer stadium in Syria’s Idlib re-purposed to shelter people displaced by war, children are being offered a service highly sought after since the coronavirus pandemic set in: a haircut.

The camp is one of several in Syria’s war-torn northwest region where makeshift barbers are being set up by the International Association for Relief and Development (ONSUR), part of a project to bring relief to children during the Eid holiday that marks the end of Ramadan.

“Today we came to the camp to give children haircuts ahead of the Eid holiday in order to bring their hearts joy and to prevent crowds from gathering at barber shops,” said Abdul Wahab Al-Daif, a 33-year-old barber.

The rebel-held northwest, home to more than 3 million people, has not had a confirmed case of the novel coronavirus, but doctors fear its shattered medical infrastructure and overflowing camps could quickly turn any outbreak into a humanitarian disaster.

To minimise the risk of contagion, ONSUR’s barbers are operating in individual tents or setting up designated haircut areas to help maintain social distancing.

“No matter how much you try to separate people in the camps, it’s almost impossible, but we’re doing our best to serve people and protect them from disease,” said Muhammad Najjar, ONSUR’s Idlib director.

The group is also distributing masks and educational brochures for children on how to prevent the spread of the coronavirus as well as offering psychological support.

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