The city of Qamishli is preparing for Christmas celebrations early this year. Several events and activities have started in the city not seen in the past two years.
Although Qamishli groans under the weight of the Syrian crisis, it still resists the difficult circumstances in order to retrieve what can be from normal life activities.
On the streets of the city known for holding the largest Christmas celebrations across the country in the years before the crisis, decorations and lights are present, the shops are open until late at night and people are returning to the streets, usually less active in the cold and dark winter of the city.
According to those in charge of several events and celebrations the city will witness this year, residents are trying to re-ignite the civic life of Qamishli, given the absence of any sense of joy, despite the relative security and stability compared to what large areas of the countryside have witnessed.
The Christmas celebrations this year are considered a break for the people of the city and for the displaced people who have arrived from embattled provinces. The celebrations give an atmosphere of joy reminicsent of years gone by, before the circumstances changed everything.
Although the security situation is acceptable in Qamishli, it suffers from a lack of necessary services to sustain life, and the extremely high prices made the people of the city lose all their savings.
Without justification, and because of the failure to find innovative solutions in other areas, the government has tended to ignore Qamishli totally.
The electricity is cut for more than 20 hours a day, the water outage crisis doesn’t end, and the prices of commodities are higher than in Damascus. Heating fuel is not available, as the motor gasoline is sold in the streets at a price of around SYP 300.
The supervisors of this year's celebrations say that the celebration may send a reassuring message to the people of the city and prevent them from migration that has become a worrying phenomenon. Despite the continuous arrival of displaced people, the real number of immigrants from the city toward Turkey and Europe will be higher than expected.
Qamishli has witnessed, just like all the cities and towns of Hassakeh province, a terrifying migration wave during the past two years. A number of circumstances contributed to the escalation of migration process, but the lack of any government efforts to stop it, in addition to the living conditions and lack of services, kidnappings, and the spread of crime and weapons, contributed mostly to the rise of the numbers of immigrants.
A number of young volunteers are preparing to dress like Santa Claus and begin visiting homes, giving gifts to children who have endured the largest share of the consequences of the Syrian crisis.
Santa Claus of Qamishli is not linked to any commercial establishment specialized in selling children gifts, as is the case in the West. No one can communicate with him to "ask for gifts", as it is mostly a personal initiative of the youth of the city, and it depends on simplicity and cooperation to bring joy to children whose families were forced to exchange their holiday expenses with food and fuel.
A number of merchants in Qamishli control the needs of the province as if they were officially in charge. They provide transportation, food and pharmaceuticals among the provinces across the land or even via the Syrian government's cargo planes, while the officials in Hassakeh province use the term "crisis" to justify any governmental failure.
Food prices began to rise gradually over the past few days to reach its peak in the Christmas holiday days and New Year's Eve.
Translated and edited by The Syrian Observer