Over 40,000 displaced persons, across 14 refugee camps, were battered by the recent flooding in northern Syria’s Idlib province, resulting in destroyed shelters, lost possessions, and at least two deaths, reports The National.
The thousands of refugees living in these camps, having already survived mortar attacks, bombings, and other violence, have been unable to return home due to the continuing war. This past weekend, the region was pummelled by heavy rains. Knee-high mud water flooded into the camps, and tents were severely damaged.
Though the United Nations has responded by supplying food and other necessities to the refugees, as well as digging out water channels to clear away floodwater, a great deal of damage has already been done: at least one woman and her child were killed in the storm, and schools and hospitals have been forced to close.
Many of the minimal possessions that families had held onto, such as clothes, phones, and bedding, have already been lost in the mud. According to one refugee, a father of three children have been coming down sick, and he says that anywhere from four or five families must share a single tent at a time. Despite these terrifying conditions, the families in the camps are unable to return to their homes, as the war in Syria rages on, and settlement in other countries has become an increasingly steep challenge. Even for refugees who are resettled in other countries, the intensive, bureaucratic process will often take years.
Scores of camps in #Syria's northern regions have been seriously affected by torrential rains, floods, and roadblocks. Relief organizations are responding to calls for humanitarian intervention pic.twitter.com/hTEfpZA3V6— UOSSM Canada (@uossmCan) April 1, 2019
In response to the disaster, volunteers referred to as “White Helmets,” or the Syria Civil Defense, have worked tirelessly to clear rubble, according to AOL. These workers have struggled to save people and their belongings from the rising mud waters.
As reported by The Japan Times, the war in Syria has left millions of people displaced since 2011, with over 370,000 dead, and those numbers continue to rise. The displaced families in the refugee camps rely on humanitarian aid groups for everything from blankets to food, particularly during the winter months. As this displacement becomes long-term, the difficult conditions at the camps leads to increasingly compromised health and safety conditions.
Despite the rising number of displaced persons, the total number of refugee admissions into other countries is down 50 percent, according to ABC. In particular, the United States has been “slow-walking” the admissions process. Since October of 2018, the U.S. has admitted 218 refugees from Syria, of the millions still requiring humanitarian aid.