Displaced people living in the camps in northern Syria in very harsh conditions, tired, scared and without access to the most basic necessities to survive. UNHCR together with humanitarian partners are coordinating efforts to bring them life-saving assistance and reduce their suffering.
Over three days, UNHCR’s Representative for Syria Sajjad Malik paid a field visit to Al-Hol camp in Syria’s Hassakeh governorate, Ein Issa camp in Raqqa governorate and Areesha camp located near AL-Basel Dam in Hassakeh governorate.
The aim of visiting the three camps was to assess the humanitarian situation on the ground and recommend a way forward for future efforts. “Conditions are very difficult. Displaced people and refugees are coming out tired, exhausted and frightened. They want to move to join their relatives and first of all they need our help”, Sajjad said.
“Displaced people and refugees are coming out tired, exhausted and frightened.”
Considering the emergency response in Al-Hol camp, where about 19,000 Iraqi refugees mainly from Mosul and 881 displaced people mainly from Deir Ezzor governorate now live and with the fact that the camp still receiving refugees on a daily basis, the services available are not up to standards.
In Al-Hol camp, Taha, a 12-year-old Iraqi refugee, fled from Mosul with his father in December 2016 via smugglers, started to cry while speaking to UNHCR’s staff, he misses his mother, as she remained in Iraq with relatives. “I just want to go back to Iraq and see my mother”, Taha said.
In sweltering heat, Taha described the living conditions in Al-Hol camp, as very tough, “The weather here in the camp is very hot, we have no water, or food and people are suffering from immense heat and are in pain”.
“I just want to go back to Iraq and see my mother”
While visiting AL-Hol camp, Malik met with women headed households, who despite all the hard conditions make a living through repairing the damaged tents to be ready for re-use. Aisha, a displaced woman from Deir Ezzor, repairs about five tents daily and receives 1000 Syrian Pounds for each repair, a small income that supplements her daily needs. “These are skillful and resilient people.”, Malik said. “They have lost their homes and belongings but not their dignity and skills.”
Malik listened to heartbreaking stories of families Ein Issa camp that escaped the fighting in Raqqa. “The only thing that matters right now is that you are all safe and together”, Malik said to a family that recently escaped from Raqqa. The majority of the displaced people in Ein Issa are from Raqqa Governorate and they left in miserable conditions through smugglers who are gradually increasing their fees. They people escaping, witnessed horrors both inside the city and while fleeing the mined road.
“They have lost their homes and belongings but not their dignity and skills.”
Through the visit, Malik led an inter-agency mission to the Areesha transit site, a newly established settlement about 25 kilometers south of Hassakeh city. The current camp population is approximately 1,700 individuals, most of them are from Deir Ezzor governorate. UNHCR dispatched 164 family size tents, 480 mattresses, 300 blankets and three big size tents to be used as a reception area. Staff members from UNHCR, WFP, UNICEF, OCHA, WFP, WHO and UNFPA met with representatives from the internally displaced people in the camp and discussed the situation of the camp, services, challenges and needs.
“These people took a lot of risks to reach safety and we are working together to provide them with protection and assistance, pending their onward journey. We must work hard to make sure that these people have freedom of movement and are able to proceed to their intended destinations, with their identity documents, as soon as possible”, Malik said.