Following on from the reports over the weekend that bombing has once again resumed in Idlib, and that women and children were killed, we spoke to our colleague, Ahmad Aldamen, Senior Programme Officer for Islamic Relief based in Idlib. He told us:
The bombing over the weekend was heavier than usual and had tragic consequences; several children lost their lives. It also led to large-scale displacement.
In areas where there is bombing every day like Northern Hama, there are less casualties as people go underground and they are better prepared.
Thankfully, we have supplied the hospitals in the affected areas with drugs and disposables as we are trying to make sure that all hospitals are prepared for these kind of attacks. These hospitals have seen a lot worse.
Life is very stressful as it’s not clear when and where there will be attacks. It’s like life is hanging in the balance.
Life is getting back to normal in some places in terms of security but the economy has never been this bad. People can’t invest in any long-term ventures as safety is never guaranteed.
Thankfully, we are able to get aid inside Syria working alongside local councils and Turkish officials. And the attacks at the weekend have not stopped this. But many NGOs and donors are scaling down or are diverting aid from northwestern Syria to the eastern part. And important aid projects, including support to hospitals, have finished. This is very dangerous.
The needs are as big as ever. There are 4 million people in Idlib now and at least half are displaced. There are huge displaced people’s camps with no infrastructure and very poor education and health facilities. People have lost their livelihoods and they are really struggling; living in appalling conditions.
And this is only going to get worse as it has started raining; there have been floods and the cold weather is settling in.
One area in particular is very difficult – Khirbet al Jouz – a border village in northwestern idlib. It’s a mountainous region and therefore much colder and there’s no infrastructure, nothing, and no way for people to earn a living. The people who live here came from Latakia, which was a very poor area even before the war began. I particularly remember meeting one man who was in despair. His land was burnt down and his house was damaged and he said he had literally nothing and didn’t know what to do.
We are supporting the people here; providing food, shelter, blankets and warm clothing and we are also supporting the hospitals in the area.
It’s very frustrating how aid has become politicised and being denied to many of those who desperately need it. Unlike many NGOs we do have access in Idlib and we can deliver it but we just don’t have enough of it.
It’s also very sad that so many people are forced to live on the frontline – where it is unsafe or there is no aid, because they cannot afford to go anywhere else. They are condemned to a horrible life.