United Nations warns of flood risk for displaced persons in northwest Syria

Impact of floods on the camps at Khirbet al-Jawz, west of Idlib - January 18, 2024 (Syria Civil Defence)

Impact of floods on the camps at Khirbet al-Jawz, west of Idlib - January 18, 2024 (Syria Civil Defence)

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The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has warned that increasing floods pose a danger to displaced populations in northwest Syria.

According to the daily briefing presented by UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric on Thursday, January 18, more than 1,500 family tents have been affected by floods during the past two weeks, including shelters provided to earthquake survivors last year.

UN humanitarian partners on the ground reported that tents in Afrin and Salqin areas were particularly affected due to continuous rainfall over the past two days.

There is an urgent need for additional shelters, food, ground insulation materials, heating materials, and road repairs, according to the UN briefing.

Muddy conditions have disrupted children’s access to schools and the ability of families to access essential services in the displaced persons camps.

Dujarric spoke about assessments conducted by the United Nations and its partners on the ground and the provision of essential relief materials, including tents, repair equipment, and plastic covers for insulation, and providing psychological support to the affected families.

After outlining the needs, Dujarric noted that the humanitarian response suffers from “a significant lack of funding,” specifying that the United Nations has received about 33% of the $160 million required for the current and past year designated to providing winter aid to more than two million people in Syria.

On another note, Dujarric said that OCHA is “extremely concerned” about the ongoing attacks on civilian infrastructure and the safety of civilians in northeast Syria as the security situation there deteriorates.

He explained that over the past week, multiple air raids in al-Hasakah resulted in civilian casualties and caused “severe” damage to many civilian facilities, including power stations and oil production fields, which could negatively impact the availability of gas, fuel, and electricity in the future.

Areas under the control of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in northeast Syria have experienced a severe fuel crisis in recent days, according to Enab Baladi‘s monitoring, due to Turkish forces targeting of oil facilities in al-Hasakah governorate.

Enab Baladi‘s correspondent in al-Hasakah reported that the sale of diesel fuel had temporarily ceased at fuel stations following these attacks, while the region is experiencing a severe shortage in fuel supplies as a result.

43 camps damaged

In a report by the Syria Civil Defence rescue agency on January 17, the organization clarified that areas in northwest Syria are experiencing a low-pressure system that began to affect the region on January 16 with heavy rainfall, resulting in flash floods and the flooding of tributaries to the Orontes River, which has seen a rise in water levels.

The floods caused significant damage to the camps, closed some roads, and water engulfed agricultural lands, seeping into civilian homes and medical and educational facilities. Civil Defence teams responded to 43 camps in the Idlib and Aleppo countryside, where 157 tents were completely damaged, 369 tents were partially damaged, and the roads of these camps were affected, with rainwater and flood waters leaking into hundreds of tents.

The storm damage was particularly concentrated in the western countryside of Idlib and its camps due to the high water levels of the Orontes River as a result of heavy rainfall, the opening of several dams on the river, and the flooding of several watercourses feeding the river in the areas of al-Zouf, al-Hamboushiyah, Ain al-Bayda, Darkush, and Khirbet al-Jawz in western Idlib countryside.

This rainstorm follows days after a second winter low-pressure system hit the northwest Syria regions on January 12, causing damage in 48 camps in the Idlib and Aleppo areas due to floods and rains, resulting in total damages to 75 tents and partial damages to 1043 tents, with Civil Defence teams also responding to ten damaged civilian homes.

 

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