Floods destroy homes of quake survivors in northwestern Syria
Torrential rains damage hundreds of shelters for families displaced by the February 6 earthquakes in Syria.
Adwan camp, Syria – Dozens of camps for displaced people in northwestern Syria have been damaged by flooding after a heavy storm hit the region late on Saturday.
Torrential rain overnight in the western countryside of Idlib province damaged hundreds of shelters, many of which were recently set up to house the survivors of two February 6 earthquakes. Roads were also impassable in some areas, according to the Syria Civil Defence, also known as the White Helmets.
Several shelters were flooded in camps in Hafsarjah and Bishmaroun towns and shops collapsed in Adwan village, an official at the Syria Civil Defence told Al Jazeera. Camps in the western and northeastern countryside of Aleppo were also damaged.
“The torrential torrents caused damage to more than 40 camps, which were set up for those affected by the earthquake, in which more than 700 tents were damaged, a child was slightly injured, and shops collapsed, in addition to blocking a number of roads in cities and towns,” Munir Al-Mustafa, deputy director of the Syria Civil Defence, told Al Jazeera.
Al-Mustafa told Al Jazeera that more than 300 tents for the earthquake survivors in 20 camps were damaged. He said most of them were rapidly established and lacked suitable protection from winter storms.
“The tragedy experienced by displaced people cannot be solved by providing temporary services to them in camps, because tragedies can be endless and deprive people of the right to live safely in their homes. Rather, the only solution is to provide safety for civilians to return to their homes, and that would also diminish the need for humanitarian and relief support,” al-Mustafa said.
Askarah al-Muhammad said that she and her three daughters had to flee their tent in Adwan camp in Sahl al-Rouj when it began to flood overnight.
“I was with my daughters inside the tent when rain started seeping into the tent and sweeping away all our things. We ran outside the camp without taking anything out of the tent with us,” 50-year-old al-Muhammad said.
Al-Muhammad said she lost contact with her daughters for hours amid the chaos before she located them on Sunday in a home in a nearby village, where they had fled overnight.
“It was a very difficult night. On the one hand, I was shivering from the cold, and my back hurt because I have back problems. On the other hand, I was thinking about my daughters and what might have happened to them,” Al-Muhammad said.
“I can’t believe the calamities that befall us successively, because today I lost everything inside my tent, and I do not know how I would be able to replace them. I am unable to perform any work duties because of my illness and my age.”
The director of the Adwan camp, Abu Abdullah, told Al Jazeera that most of the families who live in the camp, which is located in a low area, are displaced from the town of Qalaat al-Madiq in the western countryside of Hama province.
“Some 223 families out of 240 families who live in the camp are now homeless as a result of the torrential rains,” said Abu Abdullah.
“All camp residents were transferred to schools and mosques of the villages near the camp as a temporary solution, pending consideration of our situation by international organisations to rebuild the camp and provide urgent assistance.”
The stormy weather was expected to continue on Sunday and the region was forecast to see a drop in temperatures, according to meteorologists.
Saleh al-Ahmad, 37, lives in Adwan camp with his wife and two daughters.
He said that when the rains hit late on Saturday, he hurried to help his daughters and his wife, who is sick, out of the tent.
With his tent uninhabitable after the flood, al-Ahmad has temporarily moved his family to stay with his sister, who lives in a nearby camp that was not affected by the rainstorm.
“Camps, earthquakes and floods. Life has become very difficult since the day we fled our town to escape the bombing by [Syrian President Bashar al-] Assad’s forces and Russia,” al-Ahmad said.
“We are tired of our appeals to all countries of the world to intervene to solve our tragedy and return us to our cities and villages.”