Windstorm | Humanitarian organizations indifferent to the considerable damages in refugee camps in rural Idlib
On December 1, a sever windstorm struck refugee camps in the northern and western countryside of Idlib, blowing away many tents and causing considerable damage in a few hours. The storm, which lasted from 05:00 am to 03:00 pm, affected nearly 73 makeshift camps in different areas in the western and northern countryside of Idlib. The considerable damage in these camps was attributed to the strong wind, as well as the fact that the camps had not been prepared well before the storm due to inaction by the authorities and humanitarian organizations operating in Idlib.
The camps which sustained varying degrees of damage due included 28 camps in Harbanoush area, nine camps in Sheikh Bahr area, nine camps in Kafr Yahmoul area and four camps nearby Maarrat Masrin town. Most of these camps were completely destroyed.
Sources have reported that most of the damage manifested itself in the ripping and uprooting of many tents, which were mostly primitive tents made of thick fabric, blankets and some very worn and used tents without being fixed appropriately to the ground. In addition, solar panels used by the inhabitants to generate electricity were also blown away. The damaged camps’ families attempted to re-pitch their tents again, as they had no other place to move to.
The sources also confirmed that the humanitarian organizations operating in Idlib seemed indifferent to the disastrous conditions of the families whose tents were damaged, as they have provided no material assistance so far to any of the damaged camps. The organizations’ assistance and support were confined only to sending rescue teams to evacuate the tents and participate to rehabilitate them. On the other hand, the “Salvation Government” issued a decision, hours after the start of the windstorm, authorizing the Ministry of Development to mobilize all workers and employees in the government and activate hotlines to help the affected families. Moreover, all ministries announced a state of emergency until the end of the windstorm.
An employee in the “Salvation Government” told SOHR that “the government sent rescue teams and humanitarian organizations to the damaged camps to provide urgent aid to the families there, where several tents were replaced and blankets and food baskets were provided to all affected families.”
A few hours before the beginning of the windstorm, several Syrian organizations warned of an imminent storm in north Syria region, and they called upon authorities in the region to prepare and secure the camps. However, the organizations operating in that region took no action, which led to this significant damage and worsened the situation of the displaced people even more, especially with the current bad weather and low temperature.
It is worth noting that the refugee camps in north Syria region had been experiencing similar storms and floods over the past years, which caused substantial material damage.