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Swamp football to shed light on displaced people’s situation

Children play football on the muddy ground at an IDP camp near the town of Sarmada in the province of Idlib - 2 January 2020 (Enab Baladi)

Children play football on the muddy ground at an IDP camp near the town of Sarmada in the province of Idlib - 2 January 2020 (Enab Baladi)

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Idlib: Youssef Gharibi

“We are suffering a lot as our tents always get wet due to rainwaters and the campground gets muddy,”  with these words, Khaled Shaaban commented on his participation in a match, in Idlib Governorate, that was organized by Syrian activists for the first time in “muddy football”.

This activity made the children forget about their suffering and have fun.

“Here, all our days are alike, but we are happy today to spend time playing with the ball in the mud,” he added.

The match was held in the camp west of the city of Sarmada, on January 2.

The participants in the match were the camp residents who were divided into youth and children and 20 civil and media activists from different institutions.

Activist Ubaida Dandoush told Enab Baladi that the aim of the event is to draw attention to the difficult situation of the displaced people in the camps, in addition to providing an opportunity for the children to have fun.

Earlier, the United Nations had announced its need for 25 million USD in order to help the Syrian people face the severe cold this winter, according to Farhan Haq, the official spokesman for the organization’s Secretary General.

Haq said in a press conference on December 12, 2019 that according to the UN estimates, there are nearly 3 million people in Syria who are in need of aids this winter to meet the life-saving necessities during the colder months.

The spokesperson added that the Syrians are facing a different winter, especially as millions of displaced women, children and men are living in the camps without electricity and heating, in addition to the high prices of basic materials.

Haq also referred to the floods that occurred in the places and camps of the displaced people northwest and east of Syria, including 16 camps in Idlib Governorate, in addition to al-Hol camp in al-Hasakah.

“The match was not only fun for the children in camp; this activity eased us as activists.  We are suffering from pressure because of our work duties. We really enjoyed the day with the children” said Dandush.

Likewise, activist Mohammed al-Ashqar considered the event as an initiative to further realize the situation of the camp residents.

“The situation that we reached after the match is the case of all camp residents. If one of the kids thinks about playing or going to school, he will get dirty with mud,” he added.

Football in the mud is a very popular game practiced in many countries and it is more popular in the United Kingdom.This game holds annual World Cups organized by the International Swamp Football Federation.

Heavy rains in northwestern Syria caused damage to the camps of the displaced, which led to the displacement of dozens of families, according to a report published by the “Syria Response Coordinators” team, on December 10, 2019, through which it assessed the conditions of the camps in northern Syria.

According to the report, three thousand and 126 families were affected by the rainstorms, in addition to the displacement of dozens of other families.

The team released a statement, on September 7, 2019, in which it appealed to humanitarian organizations and agencies working in the area to work to provide immediate assistance to the displaced people living in the camps and Random, unofficial settlements in Idlib.

The number of camps increased during the last displacement period to 1153 camps inhabited by 936,981 people, including more than 242 random gatherings that are not served, according to “response coordinators.”

The team called for working to secure immediate shelters for the displaced living in schools of the educational complexes, to allow students to return and complete their education in the region.

The team also called for work to repair previous damage within the camps and sanitation and rain fed systems and to secure the necessary insulation so as to prevent rain from getting in the tents, and to work on paving roads within the camps and new and old gatherings in general.

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