Winter Is Coming: Lack Of Services Worries Residents Of Atmeh Camp  

Asphalting roads in Atmeh Camp- September 2019 (Bonyan Organization)

Asphalting roads in Atmeh Camp- September 2019 (Bonyan Organization)


Winter’s cold crept into the Atmeh Camp as  the Syria Green Hands Organization announced the cessation of coal and other heating material aids for this year, owing to ‘budget shortfall’, making the camp’s residents anxious, given the almost non-existant options they are left with to cope with cold. 

Although a range of organizations has moved recently to set up service projects that mitigate the impact of winter on camp residents, these projects do not protect the residents of the camp from flood hazards and do not fully offer to guard the tents.


Prepared for Floods, however, uninclusively 

Last year, the Atmeh Camps suffered severely due to floods and torrents, which led to the submerge of tents and roads. Besides, in the absence of a sanitation system, diseases spread due to the contaminated water. To answer this, several organizations headed to rehabilitate roads and put in place preparedness measures for potential deluges that might occur this year as well.

In early July, Bonyan Organization launched a project to rehabilitate the main roads in the camps, “primarily aimed at mitigating flood hazards and reducing potential risks in Atmeh area, as well as improving access to basic services for many camp residents,” Ahmad Qattan, the director of the project, told Enab Baladi.

The implementation of the project is to last for seven months. The project includes asphalting nine kilometers of main roads, ‘graveling’ 5.1 kilometers of side roads, constructing sidewalks on the roads that will  be also repaired, training six youth teams from camp residents to help respond to flood risks, and rehabilitating three  water drains  to make sure that all drains are working properly if deluges were to occur.

Despite the importance of the project to the camp’s residents, the project does not include the construction of the sanitation system, which is considered a priority in the area, according to the head of Maram Camp, Abdelrazak Sattouf.

The project covers only a modicum of the pressing needs as the camps of Atmeh extend approximately over 90 kilometers of roads, as the director of al-Wafaa camp, Mustafa Ibrahim reported to Enab Baladi.

Mustafa Ibrahim added that 500 families were affected by floods last year in al-Wafaa camp, pointing out the significance of the projects carried out by the “Bonyan” organization and the ‘Saed’ charity in digging channels and expanding drains. However, replacing the worn-out tents with new ones, as he thinks, must be prioritized.


No solutions offered for heating 

The residents of Atmeh camps got “frustrated” after cuts were imposed on heating assistance this winter, the head of Maram camp, Abdelrazak Sattouf told Enab Baladi.

The project, one of the Global Community projects, was the only provider of coal to the camp residents. The project was late in delivering the coal; yet, it provided support to the residents of camps who became able to face the harshness of winter.

The director of al-Wafaa Camp, Mustafa Ibrahim, stated that 70% of its residents are living below the poverty line. The residents of the camp are left no solution but burning their old clothes for heating, as they did before due to the lack of subsidies and income, in addition to the high price of firewood.

The residents’ suffering is exacerbated by the lack of support provided by the organizations to replace the tents or repair the old ones. According to Ibrahim, most tents that suffered damage need to be replaced and must be provided with thermal insulations which the camps’ residents cannot afford.

According to the latest report by the United Nation Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), winter equipment in northwestern Syria suffers from a shortfall of $16.8 million, including $ 7 million for the rehabilitation of shelters.


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