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Syrian Response Coordination Group documents events in northern Syria in numbers 

Displaced people from Jabal al-Zawiya, south of Idlib, carrying what remains of their belongings towards the border areas after the bombardment of the  Syrian regime and Russia - 27 January 2020 (Enab Baladi)

Displaced people from Jabal al-Zawiya, south of Idlib, carrying what remains of their belongings towards the border areas after the bombardment of the  Syrian regime and Russia - 27 January 2020 (Enab Baladi)

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The “Syrian Response Coordination” Group (SRCG) issues periodic statistical data that keep pace with developments and current events in northern Syria, to be used by local media outlets to monitor and evaluate the civil and humanitarian reality in the region.

The SRCG, made up of a group of volunteers in addition to workers from other organizations, was established in 2015 and accompanied the displacement campaigns that took place in Syria, including the enforced dislocation of people pf Madaya and Zabadani in Rif Dimashq.

The activities of the SRCG, which was established by two people and now made of 450 active volunteers, is concentrated in Idlib governorate and its countryside, northwest of Syria, and in the northern and northeastern countryside of Aleppo governorate.

Organized work

Muhammad Hallaj, the director of the SRCG, said that the work of the group’s coordinators is “completely voluntary,” and is concentrated in various areas; tracking the movement of the displaced and returnees in any region, assessing the humanitarian needs of both resident and displaced people, following up their needs, and documenting the violations that occur in any area of the SRCG’s work, especially in cases of bombings, kidnapping, and assassinations.

Hallaj told Enab Baladi that the SRCG includes engineering teams directly related to the administration, whose mission is to assess the damages that take place after the bombing or targeting operations (car bombs, explosive devices, airplane bombs, conventional bombs).

In addition, the SRCG includes a specialized economic team to monitor prices, and their change and follow up on the price differences of products and commodities.

Field workers document the events

Hallaj added that the field volunteers, deployed in the work areas, provide the necessary information for the reports, and the daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly data. Then,  the information office analyzes, counts, and sorts them completely.

The SRGC’s statistics are “99 percent identical,” because there are many field-based workers who help obtain accurate information and work to “cover any event taking place in the region,” and that most of the SRCG’s outputs are programmed.

Hallaj indicated that workers— “all of them are specialists”— are subjected to pre-employment training courses, especially in the area of humanitarian work, documenting, monitoring, and evaluating violations in addition to other specialized courses for organizations working in crisis areas.

However, the SRCG faces many difficulties, most notably, according to Hallaj, the dominant parties on the ground, especially in the province of Idlib, stressing the “independence” of the SRCG from any government or non-governmental body.

One of the challenges the SRCG faces is dealing with violations that occur on a daily basis. The volunteers and workers might be kidnapped, harassed, or targeted with explosive devices and bombs as part of their fieldwork, noting that “there are volunteers on the front lines of documentation.”

Does SRCG coordinate with other actors?

Hallaj pointed out that the SRCG coordinates with other organizations in the field of documentation and work, without naming them, as they share statistics and data via e-mail with those organizations. Besides, they sometimes hold periodic meetings with international bodies, providing them with information about the situation in the region, in addition to displaying statistics for everyone, including media outlets via social media.

The director of the intervention team at Violet Organization, Mamoun Kharbout, told Enab Baladi that based on the SRCG’s data, the organization assesses the people’s needs to present them as projects for the supporting bodies, after comparing them with the numbers released by the organization.

He added that each party has its own method of validating and documenting the numbers, and it is “impossible” for one party to fully and completely evaluate the assessments. Relying on the numbers means to compare between them; for example, the numbers of internally displaced persons (IDPs)from a region are compared to the numbers of its population before displacement.

Kharbout believes that the SRCG’s numbers are “more realistic”, as they are “useful and important” for all organizations operating in the region. Besides, he denied that there are joint projects between the Violet Organization and the SRCG, adding that the organizations in the region collect all information and data depending on online rooms that bring together organizations and local councils, like the group of the “Councils and Camps” on WhatsApp.

For his part, the Director of the “Syrian Network for Human Rights”, Fadel Abdul-Ghany, denied any communication or coordination with the SRCG.

Ghany told Enab Baladi that the statistics of the SRCG essentially reflect the numbers of the displaced and that the Syrian network did not know the method followed by the SRCG.

Ghany added that the network relied earlier in some of its statistics once or twice on the SRCG’s statistics, as he put it because the network relies on its own statistics, which are the result of the work of its team and basic sources.

 

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