'I'm forced to live in 1,600-year-old ruins'

Mohamad Othman remembers going on school trips to ancient archaeological sites in Syria.

But never imagined one of them would one day become his home. This site is called Sarjableh, and a Christian settlement dating to the 5th century.

Othman and his family have been living in a tent amidst ancient ruins near the Turkish border since fleeing for their lives some 2-1/2 years ago during a government offensive.

"In the summer, we deal with scorpions, snakes, and dust, and all other pressures of life, and in the winter, there is cold and the tents not withstanding the weather. The situation is desperate, as for health services, they are non-existent."

Rocks gathered from the site anchor down their tent, one of several dozen that are sheltering families who have fled their homes during the decade-long Syrian war.

A father of four, he struggles to make an income, depending on seasonal work such as olive picking and any other jobs he can pick up. When there is no work, he's forced to go into debt to provide the basics.

These ancient ruins have been popular with the displaced because they do not have to pay to stay there, unlike other areas where landowners charge rent.

Othman talked about how everyone there used to have land that they would farm, while they had livelihoods in their villages and did not need anyone.

"We were displaced. We did not flee. Because if we fled we would have gone to a better place not to a place that has been uninhabited for thousands of years maybe.".

There are some 2.8 million displaced people in northwestern Syria, with 1.7 million of them in sites for the internally displaced, the United Nations says.

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