Crises add to the tragedy of the displaced in northern Syria

“During these cold days and every evening, the cold intensifies, and the nylon and plastic heaters begin to emit colored smoke through the air, then my (asthma) worsens, I feel short of breath and I have to use my inhaler often throughout the evening, especially when I walk the streets camp where the atmosphere is saturated with smoke.” .

This is what Abu Abdallah started with when he spoke to Orient Net during our evening visit. His slurred words as he coughed and held his asthma inhaler after he pressed it several times in his mouth to open his airways, and his difficulty appeared through the rattling sounds heard by people around him, Abu Abdullah added. Abdullah, who has been displaced from the western village of Maarat for several years and lives in an airport camp near the border town of Dana: “The high price of firewood and straw, in addition to the high price of all kinds of fuel, forced the camp’s residents to look for an alternative, and that what they wanted they found in what their children collect during the summer from cardboard Plastic and nylon, in addition some bought imported European clothes (bales) to use for heating, and some of them also use towels (diapers) for the same purpose, and the kind heating systems can be recognized by the shape of the smoke column rising from their heaters.

With the current cold wave that has hit northern Syria, which is accompanied by a thick fog that has spread to all regions and continues during the night hours until the late morning hours, in this period layers of colored smoke shadow the camp, making everyone living in tents or wandering between them suffer from shortness of breath. Thick smoke even enters the tents and causes more distress to people, especially small children and the elderly.

An ongoing tragedy

Abd al-Rahman al-Aboud, the head of a family with four children and a resident of al-Nour camp, south of Sarmada, said he is forced to go to medical centers as the weather gets colder because high fuel prices force them to use alternative and cheap materials such as plastic and cardboard, which causes diseases of the chest and respiratory system in children, which forces us to rush them. Hospitals and transfers between analysis laboratories and X-ray rooms, and in many cases the child needs several nebulization sessions, and this condition lasts from the child’s birth until he is two years old.

dr. Ahmed Ali Al-Ali, who works at the hospital in the Atmeh camp, explained to us that “the use of these heating materials increases the rate of upper and lower respiratory tract infections among children in the camps, where severe coughs require spraying and the number of hospital patients increases, and we are forced to receive more patients than capacity.” hospital capacity.

As for the advice given to patients’ families, Dr Ahmed says: “Staying away from the cause of the illness is usually the first advice, but unfortunately we cannot ask the parents of a child suffering from respiratory diseases or asthma to stay away from the atmosphere of the camp , because due to circumstances they are forced to stay there.” Cairo where they live, but what we can say is that they leave small openings for ventilation, expose smoked blankets and clothes to the sun, and regularly use medicines and serums.”

other reasons

The pollution resulting from alternative heating methods is not only in the camp areas, but also extends to the quarries, which are spread throughout the mountain camp areas, especially in the Deir Hassan area, which is full of camps and surrounded by quarries on all sides, since the work in these quarries depend on the use of explosives to break up the rocks before they are ground to produce different types of sand.

This is what causes the rise and spread of white dust, until it becomes clear on the faces of the neighborhood. In this sense, Umm Hussein, who lives in the Al-Ghab camp inside the Deir Hassan camp and was displaced there from Jabal Shahshabo four years ago says that she unsuccessfully washes the floor several times a day, and he returns to cover the floor and cover the dishes, which obliges us to wash before each use.

The woman also points out that there is another damage from the quarry, saying: “The force of the explosions coming from the quarry and their proximity to the camps causes cracks in the walls of the blocks surrounding the tents and can reach the point of collapse, which causes danger to people’s lives, with some scattered stones from the explosion.” It falls on the streets of the camp and increases the danger for the children while they are playing, reminding them of the sounds of bombing. Assad’s regime and its Russian ally.”

We asked Um Hussein why they didn’t file a complaint, to which she replied that they filed complaints and got promises to solve the problem, but they didn’t see an answer because the dust is still rising and the sounds of explosions are heard. .”

The density of dust emanating from these quarries, along with the waves of fog that spreads through the camp areas, blurs vision on the roads near the quarries, which causes many traffic accidents, and the dust damages the lungs of the residents of nearby tents and causes eye problems.

Also, near the quarries and between the camps, there are stone sawmills that work day and night and make noise that makes it impossible for their neighbors to sleep and even have peace, along with general dust that enters the tents without permission. We asked Hajj Obaid, who lives in a mountain camp west of Sarmada. , which is surrounded by sawmills Kamen is on three sides, about their condition, and he told us that he was deprived of sleep, like the inhabitants of the camp, because of the sounds of machines coming from those sawmills, in addition to suffering from air pollution, especially when the winds increase.


In addition to the unpleasant odors emanating from them, open sewage collectors also participate in the pollution, they are a breeding ground for mosquitoes and insects that transmit the germs that cause many skin diseases.

Duty nurse at the Al-Majd dispensary near Killi Ahmed Mustafa Al-Saeed told us that they receive many patients in the evening who complain of difficulty breathing and need nebulization sessions as a result of high levels of air pollution. during the cold period, and that they recorded several cases of cholera that recently spread in the camp area, one of the most important causes of which is drinking water contaminated with waste water, along with vegetables that are irrigated with sewage water. that there is a need for awareness campaigns that include all camps and explain ways to protect against the disease.

On the other hand, the “Response Coordinators” team published last month statistics on the camps for the displaced in northern Syria, through which they identified the most prominent problems that the displaced are facing, which are the unhealthy environment and pollution, especially in the random camps. The figures included newly built housing units and random camps, where the total number of camps, according to the statement of the “Response Coordinator”, is 1,633, housing one million and eight hundred thousand displaced persons.

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