Snow at a camp in Ad Dana, in northwest Syria | Photo: Still I Rise
Snow at a camp in Ad Dana, in northwest Syria | Photo: Still I Rise

Floods in northwestern Syria have affected over 67,000 internally displaced people, according to UN agency OCHA. Meanwhile, unsafe fires at camps have led to at least one death.

Heavy rainfall in the Idlib region and in northern Aleppo governorate between January 14 and 20 caused damage to nearly 200 sites housing internally displaced people, a report by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) found.

At least 67,644 people were reportedly affected by this, nearly 3,800 tents were destroyed, and nearly 7,800 damaged. Many roads leading to camps were cut off or damaged, thousands of people had to temporarily relocate, and many people's food and household items were damaged or destroyed during the floods, according to the OCHA.

Displaced women and children

There are 2.7 million internally displaced people living in Syria, according to OCHA figures. A majority are living in camps, most camp residents are women or children.

Rain and low temperatures during the winter have led to unsafe conditions at many camps. Some people have resorted to burning unsafe materials to cook and keep warm, OCHA said. According to the UN agency, fires at camps caused one death, injured seven people and left 28 tents destroyed in 2021 (as of January 26).

Cases of COVID-19

Nearly 21,000 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in northwestern Syria (as of January 25), according to OCHA. Roughly 10.5% of those cases were reportedly recorded at camps for internally displaced people.

However, OCHA suggested, the actual number of cases could be much higher, due to limited funding for COVID-19 testing and treatment and because "people are wary of seeking testing and treatment due to reasons including stigma and concerns about the loss of livelihoods."

There have reportedly been 380 COVID-19 associated deaths recorded thus far.

Calls for more aid

Humanitarian organizations have long called for more support for displaced Syrians, especially in the winter.

NGO Still I Rise released a statement commenting the situation in northwestern Syria on February 1, calling for more aid. Abdulkafi Alhamdo, their Syria project coordinator, said that "people live in places that are not suitable for camps to be built on. Many of them live on agricultural land and whenever it rains their tents sink in the mud."

"These families have been living like this for years and nothing has changed", Alhamdo said. "Every winter we go through ... the same suffering. Winter is a monster for people living in such places."

 

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