Fri 13 Dec 2019

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Flooding of the Queiq River threatens the village of Arshaf

Refugee Camps drowning due to flooding of al-Queiq river in Aleppo northern countryside in April 11, 2018 (Enab Baladi)

Refugee Camps drowning due to flooding of al-Queiq river in Aleppo northern countryside in April 11, 2018 (Enab Baladi)

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Aleppo countryside – Abdul Salam Almajaan

With the start of the rain season in northern Aleppo Governorate, the feelings of anxiety and fear began to haunt the residents of al-Arshaf town and a number of nearby villages on the Queiq River basin.

Khalil Kaddour, a resident of the town, recalls his sudden displacement with his family last year when the river flooded and surrounded the buildings, causing “panic” among the people who rushed to abandon their homes at night.

The floods caused cracks in houses, destruction of some buildings, with the collapse of some walls due to water. Kaddour told Enab Baladi that floods drowned farmland and damaged crops in nearby villages and towns.

Fears of a repeat

Kaddour witnessed the flood as it engulfed the refugee camps east of the neighboring Dabiq town, after it had been deserted by all its residents. The head of the local Council of Dabiq, Mohamed Hamidi, informed Enab Baladi that this year, the local council called for raising the level of the river sides in cooperation with the French organization “Acted”, as a pre-emptive step to prevent flooding risks and prevent the recurrence of previous suffering.

However, the village of Arshaf has not yet been able to provide the necessary support to implement the necessary precautions, leaving its people in growing fear with each new rainy day.

Ahmed Khalil, the head of the council’s service office, said to Enab Baladi that in order to prevent flooding, Arshaf’s local council needs to raise an earthen berm and shovel the 700-meter-long river that passes through the town.

Mohammed al-Sheikh Kaddour, Commander of the Civil Defense Center in the Azaz sector and its countryside, said that the only obstacle in front of the implementation of the project is the lack of support and funding.

“Every year we offer projects and plans and present our suggestions and studies to local councils in the region, but very few of them have been approved this year for lack of support,” al-Sheikh Kaddour claimed.

Response Lacking Support

According to Mohammed al-Sheikh Kaddour, the Civil defense corps in northern Aleppo has carried out a number of projects to prepare for winter, including “scaling” the camps of Bab al-Salamah, Yazi Bagh and Iklil al-Sham, and extending their sanitation, but the Queiq River still constitutes a burden for the area.

The civil defense centers have the necessary heavy machinery to implement important projects to reduce the risk of flooding, but they lack diesel fuel for its operation, as they are not covered by their operational costs.

Al-Sheikh Kaddour reported to Enab Baladi: “We have set up an emergency room to respond in case of drowning and flooding incidents, but our response is limited due to our capabilities,” referring to the cooperation of the Civil Defense Center in Azaz and Marea with the local council in Arshaf town to raise the state of readiness.

Al-Sheikh Kaddour added that the civil defense corps and the residents are waiting for the funding of organizations and supporters to implement the exorbitant projects to mitigate the damage of rain and floods in the region.

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the United Nations, estimated the need for $ 32 billion to ensure the necessary measures to resist winter in northwestern Syria this year, pointing in its issued report, on November 5, to receiving 60% of the amount at the beginning of this month amid the lack of support, which kept the Syria Humanitarian Response Plan at the level of 52% of the required funding.

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