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Relief campaigns to help IDPs in city of al-Bab shuts doors in face of “warlords”

Al-Marj camp face a brutal snowstorm in the town of Ehtemlat in the northern countryside of Aleppo – 12 February 2020 (Enab Baladi)

Al-Marj camp face a brutal snowstorm in the town of Ehtemlat in the northern countryside of Aleppo – 12 February 2020 (Enab Baladi)

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Thousands of the newly internally displaced people (IDPs) in the city of al-Bab in the north-eastern countryside of Aleppo are suffering the scourges of the recent military escalation of the Syrian regime in rural Idlib. Their suffering has been doubled due to the financial exploitation by the homeowners ; they demand rising prices for renting out their homes, amid very difficult living and security conditions in northern Syria.

With just their belongings on their backs, several IDPs, go out on a journey in search of safe shelters that protect them against cold and wet weather. Some homeowners try to exploit the situation for their own interests by increasing rental prices.

Amer Saad al-Din, an IDP from the city of Binnish in rural Idlib, was asked to pay a monthly rent of 400 USD, only on the condition that only one family could stay at home.

Saad al-Din, as a result of his experience, concluded that “charitable people can no longer do anything,” expressing resentment with what happened and is happening to him. Hundreds of Syrian forcibly displaced from their homes.

Bright side

In contrast to the conviction reached by Saad al-Din and other IDPs who faced different forms of exploitation, several campaigns, and individual initiatives have been launched by the people of the city, to stand by them, amid the lack of active humanitarian relief organizations in the region.

On 23 January 2019, some activists conducted a voluntary campaign, titled the “Good People/ Ahal al-Khair” in the city of al-Bab, without any coordination or cooperation with the local council or the organizations in the city. In addition to the “Good People” campaign, there is another one initiated by the Islamic endowments directorate of the al-Bab city.

The campaign managed to shelter during its first week, nearly 60 families within farms and homes that were donated by their owners for free.

Furthermore, some well-off people took the responsibility to pay the rent on behalf of some new IDPs for two or three months. Additionally, Obada al-Jabali, one of the “Good People” campaign organizers, told Enab Baladi that the campaign team rented 12 homes for accommodating some newly IDPs.

Al-Jabali pointed out that the campaign was able to distribute winter clothing vouchers, worth ten thousand US dollars to several IDPs. Moreover, the campaign could meet the needs of 30 families, including heating supplies, food, and mattresses.

The “Good People” campaign has received voluntary contributions amounting to 1,375 USD, 800 Turkish Lira, and 328,000 Syrian pounds (SYP- 317 USD) ) through identifying specific points of contact and dedicated telephone lines. Besides, the campaign team communicated with some merchants and “good people” to raise some funds, considered that these severe circumstances showed the other voice seeking to help the IDPs and refugees.

The Islamic endowments directorate of al-Bab initiative

The Islamic Waqf (Islamic endowments directorate) of al-Bab city mounted an initiative in cooperation with the “Iwaa Relief Team.”

Abdul Basit al-Zaliq, the head of the directorate, in an interview with Enab Baladi, stated that the initiative was able to secure 40 apartments, equipped with necessities.

Al-Zaliq indicated that 40 apartments were fully equipped to receive many IDPs, except for the flats that needed some supplies that are currently being secured.

He added that the expected number of fully-equipped apartments to shelter more than 100 families is 100 within this initiative.

The endowments directorate contacted some cashiers who carried out campaigns to assist the IDPs and to meet their needs as much as possible.  In addition, the directorate also coordinated with the social service department, which provided support to the best of their abilities after the apartments were prepared.

Enab Baladi talked to Ehab al-Rajeh, the director of the social services department in the local council, who confirmed the cooperation with the Islamic endowments directorate.

Al-Rajeh pointed out that they are ready to cooperate with any initiative to secure heating materials, mattresses, and food baskets to contain the massive displacement crisis.

According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), nearly 689,000 persons have been forcibly displaced since 1 December 2019, in northwestern Syria. This massive wave of displacement continues as the region is experiencing extreme cold, amid the ongoing military operations by the Russia-backed Syrian regime.

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