Nearly 1,000 displaced people, more than half of them children, are living in caves and lean-to shelters on a vast island of jagged rock in southern Syria.
Life is painful here. Water comes from a well 5km away and must be carried on foot, over sharp stones. Faces go dirty and children are thirsty. Shoes have become worn and children go without. Nothing can be grown in this rocky ground: families rely completely on donations, usually from locals with something to spare. Humanitarian organisations have so far been unable to reach the caves of Lajat.
The families are Bedouins from Eib, a tiny village in the area of Lajat, a rebel stronghold in south-west Dera’a province, just east of the Jordan River. The families told Middle East Eye that they had abandoned their homes and livelihoods in the spring of 2012, when fighting intensified in the region and cluster bombs began falling from helicopters. Two years later, they are still living in caves.