Aleppo’s War-Ravaged Karm Al-Qaterji Returns to Life

UNDP’s integrated area-based interventions support families to rebuild their lives

Karm Al-Qaterji neighbourhood in east Aleppo city used to be an important commercial hub, hosting many industries including metal, textile, and food.

However, a decade of conflict has taken a heavy toll on the neighbourhood, just like the rest of the city, damaging homes, businesses, and infrastructure, and forcing people to flee.

Over the past four years, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has been supporting a series of integrated projects in Karm Al-Qaterji. With generous support from the Russian Federation and the Government of Japan UNDP has helped families to return home and rebuild their lives through improving their access to basic services, enhancing their resilience and supporting their livelihoods.

UNDP started with the removal of over 50,000 cubic metres of debris, to allow residents safe access to the heavily damaged area. UNDP also supported the rehabilitation of electricity, water and sewage networks, as well as the neigbourhood’s only health centre, ensuring the population’s sustainable access to essential services.

To help returning families cope with the impact of years of conflict, displacement and loss of livelihoods, UNDP also supported over 200 small businesses through grants and diverse trainings.

As a result of these integrated interventions, more than 25,000 people have now returned to the neighbourhood.

Ahmad Karboujeh exemplifies the resilience of the residents of Karm Al-Qaterji. Born with congenital hand anomalies, Ahmad worked hard to master blacksmithing, a craft that has been in his family for generations.

After his workshop in Karm Al-Qaterji was destroyed during the violence that scarred the area, Ahmad, along with his wife and three children, relocated to a safer neighbourhood within Aleppo city and invested his lifesavings in a new workshop. Little did he know that escalating fighting would follow the family, causing him to lose everything once again.

After years on the move, and with the restoration of essential services to Karm Al-Qaterji, Ahmad and his family returned to the neighbourhood where he received a UNDP-supported grant to rehabilitate his old workshop, buy new equipment and start making a living again to support his family.

“Life must go on” says Ahmad who continues to receive his customers with a smile despite everything he has been through. “We will never accomplish anything if we stay still and complain” he adds.

To further enhance access to public services and improve living conditions, UNDP is now working on the rehabilitation of two civil services centres and a public paediatric hospital. Serving both Aleppo and Raqqa governorates, it is the only paediatric hospital in northern Syria.

Watch the above video to find out more about how UNDP supports the resilience of the Syrian people and enables those whose livelihoods were severely disrupted to recover and rebuild their lives.

Empowered Lives. Resilient Nations.