“Peace Spring” and harsh winter force locals in Idlib to use alternative materials for heating
The tough living conditions represented by poverty and high prices forced a lot of people to turn to alternative means for heating, as a result of lack of gasoline and its high price, if found.
People there use firewood, coal, pyrene “olive remains”, and plastic and rubber substances like tires, bags and clothes. Such means are being followed on a larger scale by displaced people in villages and towns of the northern countryside of Idlib, specially those in IDP camps, as they had left their areas without being able to take any of their belongings, they also left sources of income behind. Thus, most of them became extremely poor and are not able to buy gasoline for heating.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitored the spreading of these alternative ways for heating in the camps of Salqin, Harim, Deir Hassan, Kafr Takharim and Armanaz.
According to sources of SOHR, more than 80% of inhabitants in the IDP camps uses these alternative means, while inhabitants in many of the newly established small makeshift camps mostly depend on such means. But such materials have serious affect over health as they cause many respiratory diseases, chronic cough and tracheitis, in general they largely affect the children.
The astronomical price of a liter of gasoline that reached 800 SYL, resulted in many crises especially after the interruption of gasoline refined in areas under control of Syria Democratic Forces due to the military operation “Peace Spring”, in addition to the suspension of fuel imported via Bab Al-Hawa crossing point. The exchange rate of the Syrian pound against the U.S. dollar also plays an important role in raising the prices of gasoline and fuel in general. At last, the fuel monopolization by a large number of merchants in Idlib countryside.
All of these reasons resulted in raising the fuel price leaving people in the Syrian North unable to secure their needs of fuel, especially in the light of spread of unemployment and lack of job opportunities, as well as the overpopulation in several areas in the northern and western countryside of Idlib.
In his testimony to SOHR, one of those in charge of a camp at the outskirts of Kafr Takharim town, inhabited by more than 200 families displaced from the villages of Jabal Shashaboo in the western countryside of Hama, talked about the using of alternative materials for heating in the camp: he said “since winter started, many of displaced people used to going daily to farmlands planted with olive, where they search for wood, bags and plastic substances, so that they could use them to get their tents warm, some others turned to buy ramshackle clothes to use them for heating as well, a few number of families are able to buy firewood and bituminous coal. We have noticed a significant increase in health conditions, especially among children, as a result of the toxic output of burning such materials, but these families have nothing to do as the fuel prices became unbelievable along with inaction of all humanitarian organizations that neither help them nor secure any of their needs.”