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Floods destroy homes of quake survivors in northwestern Syria

Adwan Camp, Syria – Dozens of camps for displaced persons in northwestern Syria have been damaged by flooding after a severe storm hit the region late Saturday.

Heavy rain overnight in the western countryside of Idlib province damaged hundreds of shelters, many of which were recently set up to house survivors of two February 6 earthquakes. Roads were also impassable in some areas, according to the Syria Civil Defense, also known as the White Helmets.

Several shelters in camps in the towns of Hafsarjah and Bishmaroun have been flooded and shops have collapsed in the village of Adwan, a Syria Civil Defense official told Al Jazeera. Camps in western and northeastern Aleppo countryside were also damaged.

“The torrential flood caused damage to more than 40 camps set up for those affected by the quake, damaging more than 700 tents, slightly injuring a child and causing shops to collapse, in addition to blocking a number of roads in cities and villages,” Munir Al-Mustafa, deputy director of Syrian civil defense, told Al Jazeera.

Children wade in a puddle of dirty water after torrential rains hit the camps of newly-housed earthquake survivors in Syria (Al Haj Suleiman/Al Jazeera)

Al-Mustafa told Al Jazeera that more than 300 tents for earthquake survivors were damaged in 20 camps. He said most of them settled quickly and had no adequate protection from winter storms.

“The tragedy experienced by displaced people cannot be solved by providing them with temporary services in camps, because tragedies can be endless and deprive people of the right to live safely in their homes. Rather, the only solution is to provide security to civilians so that they can return to their homes, and that would also reduce the need for humanitarian and emergency assistance,” al-Mustafa said.

Askara al-Muhammad
Askarah al-Muhammad, 50, has three daughters and lives in the Adwan camp in Sahl al-Rouj, in the western countryside of Idlib (Ali Haj Suleiman/Al Jazeera)

Askarah al-Muhammad said she and her three daughters had to flee their tent in the Adwan camp in Sahl al-Rouj when it began to flood overnight.

“I was in the tent with my daughters when the rain started to seep into the tent and wiped out all our stuff. We ran out of the camp without taking anything out of the tent,” al-Muhammad, 50, said.

Al-Muhammad said she lost contact with her daughters for hours amid the chaos before finding them in a house in a nearby village on Sunday, where they had fled overnight.

“It was a very difficult evening. On the one hand, I was shivering from the cold and had back pain because I have back problems. On the other hand, I thought about my daughters and what could have happened to them,” said Al-Muhammad .

“I can’t believe the calamities that are happening to us one after the other because today I lost everything in my tent and I don’t know how I could replace them. Due to my illness and my age, I am unable to do any work.”

Abu Abdullah
Adwan camp director Abu Abdullah said most of the families living in the camp are displaced from the town of Qalaat al-Madiq in the western countryside of Hama, Syria (Ali Haj Suleiman/Al Jazeera)

Adwan camp director Abu Abdullah told Al Jazeera that most of the families living in the camp, which is located in a low area, have been displaced from the town of Qalaat al-Madiq in the western countryside of Hama province. .

“About 223 families out of 240 families living in the camp are now homeless due to the torrential rains,” said Abu Abdullah.

“All camp residents were transferred to schools and mosques in the villages near the camp as a temporary solution pending our situation by international organizations to rebuild the camp and provide urgent assistance.”

The stormy weather was expected to continue on Sunday and, according to meteorologists, temperatures in the region would drop.

Saleh Al-Ahmad
Saleh al-Ahmad currently lives in a small tent with his family and his sister’s family (Ali Haj Suleiman/Al Jazeera)

Saleh al-Ahmad, 37, lives in Adwan camp with his wife and two daughters.

He said when the rain hit late on Saturday, he rushed to help his daughters and his wife, who is ill, out of the tent.

Since his tent was uninhabitable after the flood, al-Ahmad temporarily moved his family to his sister, who lives in a nearby camp that was not affected by the downpour.

“Camps, earthquakes and floods. Life has become very difficult since the day we fled our city to escape the bombing by the forces of (Syrian President Bashar al-)Assad and Russia,” al-Ahmad said.

“We are tired of our calls for all the countries of the world to step in to solve our tragedy and return us to our cities and towns.”