The Syrian Observatory For Human Rights

World Refugee Day | Do displaced people become refugees in Syrian geography?

On June 20, people around the world mark the World Refugee Day, where issues and sufferings of refugees and people whose countries have become at risk are highlighted and addressed, as well as discussing ways for providing more support to them sponsored by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).


Since the beginning of the peaceful uprising, which experienced the use of extreme power and violence by regime forces which chose to repress the protestors and abort their revolution, hundreds of thousands of Syrian people have been forced to displace from their towns and villages to other areas which are relatively safe outside regime’s control, such as Idlib and Al-Raqqah.


According to SOHR sources, nearly 17,000 displaced families inhabit in 53 makeshift camps around Al-Raqqah city centre and in Al-Raqqah countryside which are controlled by the Syrian Democratic Forces. Those families hail from the provinces of Deir Ezzor, Aleppo, Hama, Idlib, Al-Raqqah, Al-Hasakah and Homs.


Those families are struggling with dreadful living conditions, and they are in remote areas away from medical centres and markets, at a time when local and international organisations, whose number reaches 122, continue suspending support provided to refugee camps.


The Al-Raqqah Civil Council has allocated commune (“Komin” in Kurdish which means local committees) for those families in order to secure bread and fuels, as well as conducting frequent medical visits. However, those efforts have failed to cover the needs of all displaced people, especially since some of refugee camps have been established near the landfill of “Sahlat Al-Banat” camp; this, in turn, risk the safety and lives of the inhabitants of those camps.


Most of those families have found themselves forced to adapt themselves to this situation, where the occupation of collecting metal and used objects at landfills and the remains of destroyed buildings has spread. This situation also has led to the escalating child labour and forced women to engage in hard work; let alone the mounting rate of illnesses caused by the burning of garbage and coal.


It is worth noting that the Autonomous Administration has established bureaus for the new comers in areas under its control, where displaced families are able to obtain IDs called “comer cards” issued at those bureaus and granted to non-indigenous inhabitants. Those cards are renewed every six months, while persons from the indigenous inhabitants must guarantee the displaced families and provide rental contracts and security bulletins to relevant authorities.


Speaking to SOHR, an activist known by his initials as A. A. from Al-Raqqah said “since the beginning of the Syrian Revolution, Al-Raqqah was the first province to host displaced families which experienced military battles and airstrikes, where Al-Raqqah province was called then as ‘the hotel of the Revolution.’ With the recent escalation of displacement by Syrian people from areas controlled by Iranian and Lebanese-backed militias and areas controlled by Turkish-backed factions, new makeshift camps have been established in Al-Raqqah. The inhabitants of those camps are struggling with a tragic situation, especially since they are not registered at local and international organisations operating in Al-Raqqah and do not benefit from support provided by those organisations, as they are not labeled under specific category whether they are displaced people or refugees.”