'They call us garbage people': The Syrians surviving off US army waste
By Lina Shaikhouni
BBC World Service
Amid piles of waste, and surrounded by toxic fumes from burning rubbish, a small group of people hunt for food to eat and plastic to sell for recycling.
This is not the life Alia wanted for her children.
For the past three years, she has set off at 07:00 every day on a two-hour journey to the dump in Tell Beydar, north-east Syria, often taking Walaa with her.
Alia's eldest daughter, born when Alia was barely in her teens, stays at home to take care of a younger child.
Alia and Walaa do not return until sundown. By this time, the family is starving.
"I have always dreamt that my daughters would study like other girls," Alia says.
"But now they are like me, they don't know how to read or write at all."
The US military dump, though, is their only source of food and income.
"People shame us; they call us garbage people," says 25-year-old Alia.
After more than a decade of war, an estimated 15.3 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance, the latest UN figures show. And four in five people out of this total do not have access to sufficient food.
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