Displaced civilians from Idlib and Hama countryside: displacement, neglected by officials and being exploited in their refuge

A truck carrying displaced people and their belongings from Idlib southern countryside near the city of Kafranbl

The military campaign launched by the regime on the region caused the displacement of thousands of families, without a specific destination most of them have no shelter, forcing many of them to stay in the open despite the cold weather during the winter.

Thousands of displaced families are distributed in Idlib without accurate statistics
Thousands of families from the villages of Hama eastern countryside, Sinjar area, Ma'arat al-Nu'man eastern countryside and the villages near Khan Shikhun reached the Syrian-Turkish border areas near Qah and Atmeh towns, and some of them went to villages and towns that are less vulnerable to shelling at least for the time being.

The general coordinator of emergency responses for displaced civilians and coordination of organizations in the north Syria, Mohamed Jaffa, told NSO that they have so far counted 8469 families as a result of the ongoing military campaign and shelling. These numbers do not include all families, Due to continuous displacement from several areas in Hama and Idlib countryside.

The reason for the large number is the displacement of villages and towns that have been sheltering displaced people from other areas, especially Sinjar area which had more than 100,000 displaced civilians from others areas. However, the families and displaced people were forced to leave because of the continuous shelling.

The General Coordinator pointed out that the regime's forces continue to bomb a specific area so that its inhabitants will move to another area, and then bomb other areas in order to empty them.

He pointed out that this displacement came suddenly, saying that humanitarian organizations usually do inventory for their warehouses at the end of the year, in order to develop plans and projects to be applied in the new year, but the increased number of displaced civilians after the beginning of this year, requires the intervention of international organizations to help with this massive displacement, warning of imminent humanitarian disaster.

In his turn, the official in the refugees statistics department Mohamed Zeidan told NSO that the al-Salam Camps alone host 152 displaced families, distributed to the camps of "al-Naser, al-Maidan, the Arabian Gulf and al-Salam" while "for you camp" host 54 families distributed to the camps al-Nawa’ier and Shohada’a al-Hurryiah , While 291 families are located in the Karama camps and are distributed to the camps of "Al-Haramain, Al-Aqsa, Taiba and several other camps" where these camps are located in the border area of Atmah with Turkey.

Zaidan pointed out that the total number of displaced people registered so far is 2,590, distributed in the camps of Atma and Sarmada, pointing out that the census of displaced civilians is still ongoing, as more of these families are expected to arrive due to the continued military campaign carried out by the regime on their villages.

Regarding the distribution of displaced civilians in other areas of Idlib governorate, Zaidan said that about 278 displaced families are distributed in the Jebel Al-Zawiya area between the villages of Kansafra, Ahsem, Baara, Ain Laruz, Maratah, Jusef, Balyon and other villages. About 1,500 families live in the villages of Babila, 288 in Idlib city, in addition to the presence of 347 families in the villages of Jisr al-Shughour, stressing that these figures are just part of the displaced civilians because statistics are still ongoing.

The continued suffering of tens of thousands of displaced civilians and exploitation in their areas of displacement
Displaced civilians from Idlib southern countryside and Hama northern and eastern countryside suffer from lack of tents or fuel for heating forcing to live in abandoned and uninhabitable houses. Some of them set up simple tents of primitive materials for cold weather during the night but the majority of help they have is offered by the villagers who have fled to them.

Hayoma El-Yaser, 57, was displaced with her family from the village of Rabda in the eastern Hama countryside to the Jabal al-Zawiya area told NSO that this displacement is the second in one month after they left Hama to the villages of Sinjar and settled there. And then targeted the area intensively and forced them to move again.

Hayoma and the rest of the displaced civilians fear the continuation of the military campaign to target the rest of the province Idlib, saying they are no longer able to move again, for the displacement needs huge expenses that most people can not afford, pointing out that most of them have only some livestock that they sell it to afford money for daily expenses.

Hayoma appealed to all responsible bodies and humanitarian organizations to provide them urgently because most of the families who arrived in the area have been living in the open for days in the rain because of the lack of tents, in addition to the lack of fuel, heating, food and medical supplies.

Mohammed al-Ismail 45 years old also from the village of Rabda in the east of Hama, pointed out how difficult to find houses due to high rents, he said that rents in the area of Sarmada range between $ 75 and $ 100 a month. Some houses also rent up to $ 200, According to the size of the house and its location, adding that many owners are asking to pay rent six months in advance.

Al-Ismail complained that there are significant cases of exploitation in the areas where they had been displaced. He said that the increase in the number of displaced civilians led to increased rents of houses. The houses that were rented for about $ 40 per house before the wave of displacement increased their rent by more than twice after the heavy demand because the region is relatively far from the battles and bombing of the regime forces.

Exploitation of displaced persons and demands for intervention
With the arrival of thousands of displaced civilians to Idlib and their desperate need for housing, rents in areas far from shelling and battles have begun to gradually increase to about ten times the old rents, as a result of the considerable exploitation of both real estate offices and owners.

Sohayb Mukahel, who works in Idlib Coordination told NSO that house rents in the city gradually increased from 5,000 SYP to more than 50,000 SYP according to the region, the type of furniture, and security conditions in the city.

Mukahel added that the displaced civilians suffer from "exploitation of real estate offices and the owners as well" who demand large amounts that do not commensurate with the conditions of the displaced civilians, pointing out that a number of activists in the city of Idlib demanded the civil and military forces in the region to take their responsibilities especially “Salvation Government” which considers itself the sole legitimate authority responsible for the region, stressing the need to work seriously and quickly to combat this phenomenon, and work to provide housing and tents for families who live in the open.

Activists called on all those involved in the "Salvation Government" to issue periodic reports on their work to assist the displaced civilians, in order to meet their moral and humanitarian responsibilities to this large number of displaced civilians.

On his turn, Dr Mohamed Ali Amer, Minister of Social Affairs and Displaced in "Salvation Government" told "NSO" that they are working with organizations in rural Idlib to build camps urgently to help the displaced civilians, despite the lack of the means in the humanitarian field.

Amer added that they are making continuous efforts and providing assistance from the ministry to help the displaced civilians through a strategy working on it, saying they will reveal later all the efforts made by the ministry to help the displaced civilians.

With all these large numbers, and with the continued fighting and heavy shelling by the regime and its allies, the number of displaced people continues to increase daily, as they continue to suffer to secure the basics of life, and while some are looking for renting a house at an affordable price within their limited possibilities, thousands of others looking for a tent only protects them from the cold In the lands and gardens where they had set foot, in the hope that they would not have to leave for a third or fourth time.


A tent sheltering displaced people in empty land near the city of Kafranbl in Idlib southern countryside

Displaced from Idlib and Hama countryside in Quah camp in Idlib northern countryside near the Turkish border

Ahmad ALokla

Reporter in Idlib

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