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Flooding threatens refugee camps in northern Syria Open in fullscreen

The New Arab

Flooding threatens refugee camps in northern Syria

Heavy rain has caused flooding in the Afrin river [Getty]

Date of publication: 24 December, 2018

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As Syria's winter sets in, residents of refugee camps in the country's north fear flooding and severe weather conditions.

Displaced Syrians in the Muhammadiyah and Deir Ballout camps in northern Syria have raised concerns about flooding of the Afrin river in the wake of heavy rain.

High water levels last week cut off the road between the two camps, with water reaching around 1.5 metres.

Rashid Abu al-Khair, a resident of south Damascus who fled to the Deir Nalah camp, said that a couple managed to save a child and an old man from drowning the river after they were washed away by water that cut through the camp.

"There have been no deaths so far because the flooding has mostly affected the road, although in the camps, children’s playgrounds have also been flooded, but the tents remain. We are worried though because it is only the beginning of winter," Abu al-Khair said.

"The water may flood tents if rain continues, but water levels are falling for now," he added.

For many displaced Syrians, the perils of winter weather add to the torment already experienced through conflict.

"We fled the death and the siege in the south of Damascus to live in torment here - there is no comfort for us at all, and we are going to spend what is left of our lives in search of shelter," camp resident Amina Munour told The New Arab.

"We are in the floods in the rain and cold, but we must be patient and tolerent. There are no options ahead of us and nowhere to go", she said.

Activist Ayham Mahmoud told The New Arab that Turkish organisation Afad is making efforts to secure the displaced in the camp and distribute heaters and fuel to residents. 

"The organisation distributed winter clothes to children and displaced people in the camps of Muhammadiyah and Deir Ballout are waiting for more - they left areas with only the clothes they are wearing, and humanitarian organisaitons can play a greater role in this," he said.

According the working group on Palestinians, the Deir Ballout camp has 600 families, including 325 Palestinian families, all of whom lack basic neccessities. The 400 families in Muhammadiyah camp reportedly live in similar circumstances.

"If they were to replace tents with caravans, it would be better for us. We cannot feel warm in the tent. But this place will never be a home for us," Deir Nalah resident Abu al-Khair said.

"Our children were killed and displaced. We have survived so far, but we do not know what the days have in store for us - we hope the winter will be well."

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