Long a source of joy, rainfall and snow have turned into a terrifying nightmare that threatens the lives and living conditions of displaced Syrians in northwestern Syria camps.
According to the Syrian Civil Defense Organization (White Helmets), 72 camps housing some 2,250 families in northwestern Syria have suffered varying forms of damage from the blizzard that has beset the region since Tuesday evening.
On its Facebook Account, the White Helmets posted a new statistic showing that 920 tents had been destroyed—and a further 1,900 tents had been partially damaged—across 72 camps due to snowfall and heavy rains over the past two days.
The organization described the situation of more than 1.5 million displaced people, who live in dilapidated tents, by stating that “their lives have become hell.” The blizzard flattened the tents of some residents, amid the continued exposure of northwestern Syria to the freezing winds, accompanied by a significant drop in temperatures and frost across rural Aleppo and Idleb.
Snow depth in rural Aleppo reached half a meter
In northern Aleppo, snow depth ranged from 30 to 50 cm, besieging the informal camps in the areas of Sharan, Bulbul, and Rajo in the Afrin countryside. Heavy snow also struck the camps of Yazibagh, Shamarin, and Arab Gweran near Azaz. White Helmets teams responded to 57 camps, mostly at random, in which 160 tents were completely damaged, and 1,300 tents were partially damaged.
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More than 1,250 families have been affected in these areas. The organization reported that after more than 15 hours of continuous work, White Helmets teams were able to reach families trapped in the camps; reopen blocked roads; and evacuate many residents whose tents were damaged, moving them to safety.
Heavy rains hit Idleb countryside
In the rural north of Idleb, torrential rains caused floodwater to gather in low-lying areas, damaging 15 camps in the Atma and Sarmada areas, cutting off some locations from surrounding areas.
According to the White Helmets, more than 760 tents were completely damaged (through direct damage or flooding), while some 600 tents were partially damaged (being surrounded or partially saturated with water). An estimated 1,000 families have been affected.
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White Helmets steams said that they responded to the camps and were able to open sewers, allowing rainwater to drain away. They were also able to remove water surrounding tents, evacuate families whose tents had been flooded to other tents in the same camp (or to tents owned by relatives in other camps), wash away mud, and re-open roads to those camps.
During this winter, northwestern Syria has been hit by numerous rainstorms. The most recent incident occurred on December 20, causing damage to some 132 camps, with some 1,250 tents partially or completely destroyed. Despite the response from the White Helmets’ emergency teams, the tragedy remains enormous. The needs of those living camps—particularly the informal settlements—exceed the support capacity of organizations that are operating on the ground.
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.