White Helmets and SSG Work to Ease Harsh Winter Conditions for IDPs in Northern Syria


Credit: (Agency of Sham / Social Media)

The plight of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in northern Syria has been exacerbated by the harsh winter conditions, including heavy rains and cold temperatures. The Syrian Civil Defense, also known as the White Helmets, and the Syrian Salvation Government (SSG) have been working tirelessly to alleviate the suffering of these vulnerable populations in one of the most difficult times of the year.

The SSG Ministry of Development and Humanitarian Affairs has taken proactive measures to address the challenges faced by IDPs during the winter season. An engineering committee from the Camp Affairs Directorate has been tasked with replacing cloth and tarp tents with more durable and weather-resistant prefabricated houses (caravans) in Al-Wefaq camp in Mount Kili rural Idlib.

This initiative aims to provide better protection against the elements and improve the living conditions of the displaced families. Last year the SSG installed rainwater drainage networks for camps, built culverts, and repaired camp roads while insulating 21,000 tents providing 1,150 caravans, and relocating 3,300 families from tents to brick concrete homes.

Since the beginning of Winter recent heavy rains have already caused significant damage in several camps, such as the Salah al-Din camp in Khirbet al-Joz, where mud has blocked the camp’s roads and rainwater has seeped into numerous tents. The White Helmets have been actively assisting and conducting inspections in affected camps, such as Karam al-Tuffah and Anin al-Sahel, to respond to emergencies. Their swift response has been crucial in ensuring the safety and well-being of the IDPs.

Tragically, incidents such as tent fires have also occurred, further adding to the hardships faced by IDPs. A tent for a displaced family in the Ali bin Abi Talib camp in the Sarmada region, north of Idlib, was destroyed by a fire caused by an electrical short. The White Helmets promptly intervened, extinguishing the fire and ensuring there were no casualties. Similarly, a fire broke out in a tent for earthquake-affected individuals in the Al-Karam camp in the city of Jindires, north of Aleppo, due to a gas leak from a gas canister. Once again, the White Helmets acted swiftly to contain the fire and minimize the material damage.

The White Helmets have been working in collaboration with camp residents to pave roads and mitigate the impact of the inclement weather. Their efforts have been instrumental in ensuring access to essential services for the more than 2,500 people living in Al-Taawoun Camp 1.

In response to the widespread damage caused by the rainfall, the Civil Defense teams have been conducting inspection tours, raising earthen berms, and opening water drainage channels in numerous camps in the northern and western countryside of Idlib. They have also been involved in removing stuck vehicles and providing assistance to prevent further damage to the camps and ensure the safety of the displaced population.

However, it is important to note that the root cause of their displacement, destruction of homes, and forced displacement by the Assad regime and their Russian and Iranian allies is still ongoing, while budgeting shortfalls have caused several aid organizations to cease support for various camps.


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