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Thousands of families affected by flooding in camps in northwest Syria

Children in a small boat in Idlib province during January flooding [AFP/Getty]

Date of publication: 1 April, 2019

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8000 families in 537 camps were affected by severe flooding over the weekend, worsening an already desperate situation.
Refugee camps in northwest Syria have been hit with severe flooding over the weekend, affecting more than 8,000 families according to the Response Coordination Group, a local NGO.

Schools inside the camps for refugees were closed for two days due to the heavy rainfall with 537 camps in 15 areas affected. The most severely affected camp suffered damage to half of its tents.

"It is common knowledge that the hundreds of thousands of people living in displacement camps in northwest Syria are vulnerable to bad weather conditions," said Ranim, Communications Offier at The Syria Campaign, "Over the winter, heavy rains washed away tents as people were left to deal with freezing winter conditions with little international humanitarian assistance."

"It is not acceptable that people who were forced out of their homes, who are living in tents with little or no access to aid, now have to bear the impact of bad weather."

Members of the Syrian Civil Defence (White Helmets) evacuated families and helped them to save their few belongings. A team rescued 12 people when their car was swept up by the floods near Atmah camp, north of Idlib.

Humanitarian organisations have been left to respond to the needs of more than 3 million civilians, 1.7 of them internally displaced, after international governments cut funding to the northwest, explaind Ranim, calling on the international community to act. 

Camps in Syria have been negatively affected by rain storms since 2012. The rainstorm, which began early on 30 March, is the fourth to hit the camps since the winter.

Shelling by the Syrian regime and Russia has led to continuing waves of displacement from the areas of Hama and Idlib - worsening the situation.

Shelling by regime forces has forced at least 100,000 people living in the area to flee their homes since the assaults began in February, according to the Response Coordination Team, while 186 people - 71 of them children - have been killed.

NGOs have been forced to halt some operations inside Syria due to regime shelling. Despite a ceasefire zone agreed between Russia and Turkey last year, Idlib has seen airstrikes and shelling on the province - packed with hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees living in camps.

But the takeover of Idlib by al-Qaeda linked Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), formerly known as Al-Nusra Front, has seen Russia and the Syrian regime issue new threats against the province.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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