Imagine living in a tent filled with water and mud during winter. This is the reality for thousands of Syrian refugees displaced during the civil war. Currently, 4 million people occupy Idlib and the majority are displaced and living in these horrendous conditions. Most of the affected are children and widowed women.
Heavy rainwater hit the Idlib camp causing destruction in its path. The rainfall began at midnight and did not stop for 2 days in mid-January. Tents were destroyed and refugees were homeless once again, causing more overcrowding within neighboring tents.
“Statistically speaking, 145 tents were destroyed due to the rainstorm that hit different areas of Idlib. In Total, there are 291 tents that are no longer suitable for using as they were heavily damaged by the storm.” States Hafez, a volunteer with the Al Myzan (جمعية الميزان) Relief Aid in the camp.
Golda, the Raise the Voices Director, gave her statement about what she saw through the video call. “I knew there were refugee camps in need, but the abstract concept is one thing, seeing two little kids jumping up and down on a tent that blew down in the last storm is another. We had a quick, unscripted look at the camp, in the small perimeter where the wifi worked. A man walked by and said they needed some more food. We peeked into one tent which was neatly laid out with a rug on the floor and some items piled on the side. It felt like people making the best of a very tough situation, who had been at it for a while, and we’re just working through it. I really want to get some books and games for those kids. Mostly what they have to play with is mud.”
Refugees in the camp already lack basic necessities, but the rainfall has made the condition more dreadful. People are forced to wear clothes that are drenched with floodwaters in the cold because they have nothing to change into. Children are without coats and shoes. Most of them only have access to sandals that are being destroyed by the mud.
Mud has now become the main toy for refugee children. “As you can see now there is a group of children playing with mud as they have no toys or anything for them to play with,” Hafez stated.
Chetan, a Raise the Voices volunteer, chimed in on how he saw the camp through a video call. “Basically, it was horrific. I saw tents that were not in livable conditions, and there was limited access for things the children can do.”
Surface water still remains to flood the camp. This is preventing the refugees from having access to dry living conditions and clothes. To obtain clean water they are walking through mud and deep puddles that have been lingering for weeks. Children are holding on to tents to walk through the mud so they don’t slip.
“Our life is very hard and the small amount of help we receive is not enough. I have 5 children and the relief items we receive could only support us for a maximum of 10 days. We need your help; we need more aid and relief items. Our life is difficult.” Abu Ahmed, a refugee occupying the camp, expressed.
A grant application has been placed with elrha for the WASH initiative in draining the surface water. After reviewing different WASH techniques, a decision was made to plan for a drainage system for the surface water that is saturating the land. Also, in collaboration with the drain, rainwater collection would be utilized to alleviate some of the floodings as well as provide a sustainable water source. Having the funds to complete this project would help relieve some of the misery these families are facing.
Due to a lack of water, overcrowded living spaces, and lack of protection equipment Covid-19 is spreading rapidly through the Idlib camp. Children have no access to their education and people who are ill are unable to get treatment due to the destruction of many hospitals by the Syrian government. Hospitals have limited space and are lacking medications and equipment. “Covid-19 pandemic heavily affected the situation in the camp. Most children are not able to continue their online education. Everything has been affected from the pandemic.” Hafez expressed.
A gofundme has been set up to assist with the conditions in the Idlib refugee camp. Hafez stated how the funds are obtained and used. “We are a neutral volunteer team and donations are our only means of funding. We use PayPal to get donations with cooperation with trusted people in Euro countries. These donations are routed to Turkey and then we receive the funds from inside Syria where we buy materials in accordance with our standards. We distribute materials to refugees and the distribution takes place within the camp. As for financial aid, we receive very little amounts under $300 US. As of, we are able to help only a portion of the camp, and our aid is targeted towards the neediest families but it is not enough for the miserable situation of the families in the camp.”
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