Ramshackle buildings constitute a last resort and a threat to civilians’ lives in Syria’s Idlib

Syria’s Civil Defence teams in Idlib remove the debris from the roof of a partially destroyed building for fear of its fall- 12 July 2020 ( “This is Idlib” Facebook page)

Syria’s Civil Defence teams in Idlib remove the debris from the roof of a partially destroyed building for fear of its fall- 12 July 2020 ( “This is Idlib” Facebook page)


Enab Baladi – Ali Darwish

Malik al-Ibrahim lives with his family in a partially demolished house, with no doors or even windows to protect them from the blazing heat of summer or the cruel cold of winter.  Al-Ibrahim told Enab Baladi that “ At the beginning of our displacement, I had to live with my family in this house because I cannot afford rent payments.” 

The average cost of renting a house in the rebel-held province of Idlib is estimated at approximately 100 US dollars. Al-Ibrahim, an internally displaced person (IDP), had to flee his house in the countryside of Idlib as a result of the Syrian regime and Russia’s recent bombing campaign on the area. 

Al-Ibrahim’s condition is similar to thousands of Syrian displaced families in the opposition-held areas in north-western Syria; these families found no proper place to shelter in, except fallout houses, which no one can ask to rent or live in because they are, at the first place, not adequate for housing. 

A threat to life at any time

Al-Ibrahim lives in a “ semi-house,” whose walls and roofs are almost collapsed or filled with cracks. 

A large piece of “concrete” (weighing about half a ton) fell down from the upper floor and settled on a wall in the apartment where al-Ibrahim lives in, causing material damage. Luckily none of his family members was harmed.

Al-Ibrahim is preventing his children from playing in front of the house for fear that anything might fall on them from the upper part and for fear of the bites of rats spreading between the rubbles, especially in the lower part of the building. 

SCD… removing rubble is an ongoing routine action

Syrian Civil Defence (SCD) teams are working permanently and routinely to remove destroyed, cracked, or falling apart roofs and walls, according to Firas al-Khalifa, a member of the media office of the SCD directorate in Idlib.

The presence of dilapidated buildings is one of the most common problems faced by the residents of the cities of Idlib, Jisr al-Shughour and Ariha, due to the spread of high buildings, according to Firas al-Khalifa.

The SCD teams go to the areas where their residents complain of the presence of buildings or roofs that are about to collapse. Thus, the teams work to fix them within their limited capabilities, but there are no statistics for their work because it is done routinely and as needed. 

However, the SCD teams face difficulties due to the lack of sufficient mechanisms, especially with the presence of tall buildings that require tall cranes, which can lift heavyweights.

The SCD volunteer teams are in constant danger because they are being targeted repeatedly during the removal of the collapsed roofs. In addition to that, the buildings might fall on the volunteers during their work at any time.  

The roofs and semi-destroyed buildings pose a threat to life, as at any moment they can fall,  injure or kill civilians near them, especially with the overcrowding in the area, according to Firas al-Khalifa.

118 thousand shells

The Syrian regime forces and their Russian ally targeted the opposition-held areas in north-western Syria with about 117,500 different shells fired from aviation, artillery, and rocket launchers, from 26 April 2019 to 6 March last, as documented by the SCD. 

The SCD stated that the Syrian regime and Russia targeted the opposition-controlled areas with 15,642 airstrikes, 541 internationally prohibited cluster bombs, and more than 5,982 explosive barrels dropped by helicopters.

The number of shells and attacks was sufficient for most villages and towns on the seams to be systematically destroyed, and some areas were completely wiped off the map.

The SCD recorded that warplanes targeted 81 popular markets, 60 hospitals and medical points, 107 schools, 39 laboratories, and 22 bakeries.

The “systematic” targeting of civilian areas and infrastructure has led to waves of displacement from the Idlib countryside, the northern Hama countryside, the western and southern countryside of Aleppo to relatively safe areas, and the number of displaced people has exceeded 1 million since November 2019.

Youssef Ghribi, a correspondent of Enab Baladi, contributed to writing this article


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