Windstorm in Idlib | Over 175 tents of displaced people destroyed
A strong windstorm, heavy rain and snowfall have struck some heights in north-west Syria, destroying many tents in refugee camps in northern and western countryside of Idlib in light of shortage of assistance, as well as poor response by humanitarian organisations and relevant authorities to relief the affected families, but no casualties have been reported.
SOHR activists have reported that the strong wind and rainfall on Thursday, March 10, resulted in total destruction of a three-story building in Binnish town in the northern countryside of Idlib. This building had come under attack in 2017.
The heavy rain also resulted in rolling over of a large rock which hit a tent in Al-Beir camp in Sarmada area in the northern countryside of Idlib. In addition, a wall had collapsed in Jad’in village in Kafr Takhareem town in the northern countryside of Idlib, blocking the a road in the village, before rescue teams removed the rubble and opened the road.
On the other hand, SOHR activists have reported that a lightning bolt hit the roof of “Muadh ibn Jabal” mosque in Qah area in the northern countryside of Idlib during the Friday prayer on March 11, which caused material damage. Also, on Friday 11, areas in Jabal Al-Zawiyah in the southern countryside of Idlib, particularly mountain heights and Jabal Al-Akrad, witnessed snowfall which lasted for hours.
Local sources have informed SOHR that most of the camps affected by this harsh weather are located in towns in northern Idlib, such as Armanaz, Kafr Takharim and Salqin, as well as the areas of Al-Dana, Deir Hassan and Sarmada, where some tents sustained partial damage while others were totally destroyed. One of the camps which sustained considerable destruction due to the latest windstorm was “Kafatayn” camp in Jabal Al-Sammaq, near Kafr Takharim town in the northern countryside of Idlib, where nearly 25 tents out of 200 were damaged. It is worth noting that the camp hosts displaced people from Marraat Al-Nu’man area in the southern countryside of Idlib.
Speaking to SOHR, an activist known by his initials as M. A. and lives in the northern countryside of Idlib said, “the tough windstorm and heavy rainfall continued since Thursday, March 10, where the weather forecast department had warned that this storm would by the toughest in years. Several camps have sustained substantial damage, especially old and makeshift camps which have not get any support by humanitarian organisations. The storm coincides with stifling crises and prohibitively high prices, especially the prices of alternative materials used for heating, and the upcoming Ramadan. While the storm has further burdened the displaced families who are not able to repair their tents, amid almost-complete suspension of assistance provided by humanitarian organisations operating in this area. These families has re-set their tents which had collapsed due to the rain and strong wind, as they were not able to replace them with new tents.”
“The response by the humanitarian organisation was poor, as they have ignored the situation of these camps even before winter. These organisations were supposed to strengthen the tents, re-set them above the ground and provide them with waterproof covers in order to reduce possible damage during winter. However, the work these organisations has confined to providing psychological support, amid indifference to the disastrous situation in refugee camps. After the damage caused by the windstorm, the rescue teams only helped the displaced families to re-set the tents, as they provided no new tents, as well as opening roads after removing rubble. Such assistance has not been enough for the displaced people who are looking forward to be brought back to their towns and villages and expel regime forces and their proxy militias from the region. Tents in most of the camps, especially the makeshift ones, need to be replaced, while roads to these camps need to be paved. Also, canals need to be dug to drain out the water in these camps, as well as providing food supplies and heating materials,” added the activist.
According to local sources, over 100 tents have sustained partial damage, while 75 others were totally destroyed due to the windstorm which battered refugee camps in north-west Syria region.
This was the second storm of its kind in 2022, as SOHR reported, on February 20, that a similar windstorm and a snowstorm struck most of refugee camps in north Syria, precisely the camps of Kherbet Al-Jouz, Al-Zouf, Jisr Al-Shughour, Darkoush in the western countryside of Idlib and areas in the northern countryside of Latakia, which caused substantial material damage in tens of camps, many of whose tents were blown away.