Spring rains have brought floods to northwest Syria, affecting tens of thousands of families living in displacement camps and killing at least two people, including a child. Shelters have been washed away while people are left with soaked and freezing belongings, many in need of food, clean water and fuel.
This is the second time this year that the region’s displaced people, hundreds of thousands of whom live in camps, have been hit by bad weather. Over the winter, people were subject to bitterly cold temperatures and heavy rains that proved too strong for old and fraying tents.
Since the winter flooding, the numbers of displaced people have swelled as the Assad regime and Russia escalate their attacks on northwest Syria. In disregard of the agreed Idlib demilitarised zone, the allies have been bombing civilian buildings, forcing thousands of people to flee. Already the northwest is home to an estimated 1.7 million displaced people.
The displaced, and many of those living in permanent accommodation, are in desperate need of humanitarian aid. UNOCHA estimates that 2.7 million people in northwest Syria require aid, with 2 million reliant on water that has to be trucked in. Though the UN and various NGOs are working to help those in need, their efforts have been affected by international governments’ decision to cut funding to the area following the ascent of the extremist group Hayat Tahrir al-Sham. Local organisations have criticised the decision to stop funding, saying that it only hurts civilians, the majority of whom oppose the group.
Since the flooding began on 30 March, displaced people have had to live in waterlogged conditions with the cold weather preventing the tents from drying. The rains have made certain roads too muddy to navigate, preventing water suction trucks from arriving to alleviate the floods. There are several humanitarian and civil society groups working to support the displaced people in Idlib, among them Violet, Molham Team and the Syria Civil Defence. But without an urgent increase in their funding, they will be unable to address people’s urgent needs.