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“Protection”.. Spreads Civil Defense Culture in Raqqa

The early intervention team starts the debris removal project in the city of Raqqa - 14 January 2018 (Enab Baladi)

The early intervention team starts the debris removal project in the city of Raqqa - 14 January 2018 (Enab Baladi)

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 For about two months, a team of twenty people has been working under “Protection” campaign, seeking to spread the culture of civil defense in Raqqa, which is undergoing a primary reconstruction process, implemented by the “Raqqa Civil Council” affiliated with the “Syrian Democratic Forces” (SDF), with USA’s direct support.

The “Raqqa Civil Council” has restructured its members, on 17 January, after its formation announcement in April 2017, by “SDF” that controlled the whole governorate of Raqqa last October.

“SDF” conducts coordination processes with the US-lead collation to rehabilitate and rebuild the damaged bridges in the city of Raqqa, while many other countries attempt to participate in the governorate’s reconstruction process.

The Campaign’s activities persists to the day, according to Hassan Shuayeb, it general supervisor, who told Enab Baladi that launching the event was a response to “the Raqqa battles in the past six month, which caused a massive damage to houses and governmental facilities, as well as hospitals and vital points in the shadow of the Islamic State’s control.”

The most remarkable thing that attracted the team’s attention was the intense spread of landmines, left by ISIS in the area; its members believe that there is a lack in the level of readiness to emergencies and disasters, and an absence of specialized civil defense teams which “led to an actual humanitarian catastrophe in the city and its countryside, calling for intermediate intervention,” according to Shuayeb.

The Campaign included many activities, triggered by the idea of spreading the culture of civil defense among citizens and to influence decision makers to establish a body that can rapidly interfere, according to the supervisor, who explained that “the team is communicating with the area’s decision makers through periodical meetings that have a regular pace, in addition to networking with medical and local organizations to benefit from the staffs in spreading [this] culture.”

The activities vary between general awareness and cultural sessions, including printing booklets about the importance of the suggested idea to the area. The team has, so far, achieved elementary outputs, represented by the formation of the Civil Defense Committee, under the “Raqqa Civil Council”; the campaign’s supervisor added that “our goals is to shed light on the necessity of the [proposed] idea.”

With its plan, for the two months of February and March, the team seeks to cooperate with the committee to expand the frame, where the meant culture is supposed to be spread, according to Shuayeb.

A Fundamental Body

Nour al-Najem, from Raqqa, says that “Protection” can be considered a part of the efforts seeking to form a civil defense body, “basically needed to serve the people in the shadow of the spread landmines and the other current obstacles that are hindering life.”

He believes that “it is important to establish a local competent commission to overcome problems and propose ban-aid solutions,” considering that “the body can provide a crucial part of this.”

For his part, Ali, from Raqqa, attended three awareness sessions in the field of first aid, under “Protection” campaign. He told Enab Baladi that he learned how to deal with basic emergencies, such as fractures, burns and domestic prevention.

He believes that the campaign “is important for raising awareness in the daily life’s fields at least, after its long absence in the shadow of the battles.”

The newly formed team says that it is working with its local resources and through networking with associations, in addition to investing the projects’ outputs and the relations they build during work.

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