Water Shortages Worsen as Funding Dries Up for Northwest Syria Displaced

International funding has dried up for aid at impoverished displacement camps in Syria's opposition-held northwest . AAREF WATAD / AFP
International funding has dried up for aid at impoverished displacement camps in Syria's opposition-held northwest . AAREF WATAD / AFP
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Water Shortages Worsen as Funding Dries Up for Northwest Syria Displaced

International funding has dried up for aid at impoverished displacement camps in Syria's opposition-held northwest . AAREF WATAD / AFP
International funding has dried up for aid at impoverished displacement camps in Syria's opposition-held northwest . AAREF WATAD / AFP

Hussein al-Naasan struggles to provide water for his family in the scorching summer, as aid funds have dried up and conditions deteriorated in impoverished displacement camps in Syria's opposition-held northwest.
"Water is life, it is everything... and now we are being deprived of water," Naasan told AFP from a camp near Sarmada, close to the Turkish border.
"It's like they are trying to kill us slowly," said the 30-year-old father of two, who has been displaced for more than a decade.
After 13 years of conflict, a lack of international funding has severely undercut the provision of basic services such as water, waste disposal and sanitation in displacement camps in northwest Syria, according to the United Nations.
More than five million people, most of them displaced, live in areas outside government control in Syria's north and northwest, the UN says, and many rely on aid to survive.
Residents told AFP that tap water was unavailable at the camp and aid organizations had stopped trucking water in, blaming aid budget cuts.
Naasan is sharing a water tank with three other families to reduce costs.
"We are finding it very difficult to secure water that we can't even afford to buy," he said.
Neglected
Diminishing water access could lead to a "major disaster", Naasan warned as the summer sun beat down on the camp.
He said waste was piling up, adding to the risk of disease in an area with war-ravaged medical facilities.
Syria's war, which broke out after President Bashar al-Assad repressed anti-government protests in 2011, has killed more than 500,000 people, displaced millions and battered the country's infrastructure and industry.
In the northwestern Idlib region, some 460 displacement camps hosting around 571,000 people do not have any water, sanitation and hygiene support from UN partner organizations, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) told AFP.
"Without increased funding, 111 additional camps hosting nearly 165,000 people will be cut off" from such support by the end of September, it warned in a statement.
About 80 percent of northwest Syria's population requires water and hygiene support including "access to drinking water, waste disposal, and rehabilitation of sanitation facilities," OCHA said.
Yet the critical sector is "consistently" neglected, having received only two percent of necessary funding in the first quarter of 2024, it added.
Camp resident Abdel Karim Ezzeddin, a 45-year-old father of nine, filled plastic barrels of water from a nearby well for his family, grateful to have a truck to transport them.
"How can they stop supplying water in the summer?" he said.
"Do they want us to die?"
'90 percent' with scabies
David Carden, UN deputy regional humanitarian coordinator for the Syria crisis, said conditions in camps in the northwest were "deplorable".
"Families in worn-out tents face suffocating heat," he told AFP.
"Rubbish is piling up in camps without sanitation support. Children are getting sick".
Response Coordination, an umbrella of local organizations in Syria's northwest, warned skin diseases were spreading in camps as temperatures soar and water becomes scarcer.
"In some camps, more than 90 percent of residents have scabies," said Fidaa al-Hamud, a doctor in charge of a mobile clinic near Sarmada, decrying "water scarcity, refuse piling up... and the lack of sewage networks".
Firas Kardush, a local official in the Idlib region, ruled by the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham group, said authorities were "trying to find alternatives" but warned of a "humanitarian catastrophe" if aid money runs dry.
In another camp in the Idlib countryside, Asma al-Saleh said water scarcity had made it harder to cook and bathe her five children, expressing worry as one of them has a rash.
When she runs out of water, she has to fill containers at a nearby well and walk them back to her tent.
"I do not have a water storage tank... nor am I able to buy one," Saleh, 32, said.
"We don't even have cold water to drink" in summer, she added.



Israel Takes Advantage of Hezbollah’s Security Gap to Carry Out Assassinations

Lebanese citizens remove the debris of the car of a leader of Al-Jamaa Al-Islamiya who was targeted by Israel in eastern Lebanon. (AFP)
Lebanese citizens remove the debris of the car of a leader of Al-Jamaa Al-Islamiya who was targeted by Israel in eastern Lebanon. (AFP)
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Israel Takes Advantage of Hezbollah’s Security Gap to Carry Out Assassinations

Lebanese citizens remove the debris of the car of a leader of Al-Jamaa Al-Islamiya who was targeted by Israel in eastern Lebanon. (AFP)
Lebanese citizens remove the debris of the car of a leader of Al-Jamaa Al-Islamiya who was targeted by Israel in eastern Lebanon. (AFP)

The ongoing Israeli assassinations of Hezbollah fighters and leaders highlight a security and technological gap that the party has been unable to address.
On Thursday morning, Israeli drones killed a leader in Al-Jamaa Al-Islamiya, Mohammad Hamid Jabara from the town of Qaraoun, in a raid on the town of Gaza in the Bekaa region. Hours later, a member of Hezbollah was killed in an attack on his vehicle, shortly after he had left his mother’s house in the town of Jabal al-Butm in the South. The party mourned him in the afternoon.
Mostafa Asaad, a researcher in military and strategic affairs, told Asharq Al-Awsat that the two assassinations were part of a long series of Israeli attacks against leaders of Hezbollah, Al-Jamaa al-Islamiya, and the Hamas movement, throughout southern and eastern Lebanon.
But he added that the assassinations “are not linked to a political dimension”, although their pace decreases at times and intensifies at others. They are rather “a purely military calculation”, he said.
Asaad stressed that Hezbollah has not yet been able to “stop the breaches despite the encrypted transmission devices it uses, which are mostly Iranian devices developed using Chinese, Russian and North Korean models.”
Al-Jamaa Al-Islamiya, which is close to the Hamas movement, was the target of several Israeli strikes. On June 22, the Israeli army killed a member whom it said was responsible for supplying weapons to his faction and its ally, the Hamas movement. The faction had mourned nine of its members, including senior officials, since the start of the escalation.
In a statement, the Israeli army said that it killed Mohammad Jabara, who has links with the Hamas organization in Lebanon and was assigned to promote and implement terrorist plans and launch operations from Lebanon towards Israeli territory, some of which in cooperation with Al-Jamaa Al-Islamiya.
In the afternoon, Hezbollah mourned Hassan Muhanna, who was targeted by an Israeli drone in the Butm Mountains. Local media reported that a drone attacked his vehicle, before he got out of the car and hid among the trees, where he was hit by another missile that killed him.
On the other hand, Hezbollah announced that it had bombed the spy equipment at the Hadab Yarin site with appropriate weapons, which led to its destruction.
The Israeli army said that it carried out a raid on Hezbollah’s military infrastructure in the Ain al-Tineh area, and another attack on two of the party’s military sites in Qusayra and Maryamin.