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Syria Downpour Kills Child, Turns Displacement Camps into 'Lakes'

Syria Downpour Kills Child, Turns Displacement Camps into 'Lakes'

Tuesday, 19 January, 2021 - 18:00
A drone photo taken on January 17, 2021, shows the Umm Jurn displacement camp near the village of Kafr Uruq, in Syria's rebel-held Idlib province, after heavy rain. (AFP)

Flooding following heavy rain at displacement camps in northwest Syria has killed a child and damaged or destroyed the tents of thousands of people, residents and aid workers said Tuesday.

Aid group Save the Children said a six-year-old boy was killed in Idlib after the brick wall built around his tent collapsed on top of him, while at least 41,200 others had been affected by the storm.

At one camp in the opposition-held bastion, the makeshift tents of families displaced by war lay marooned in muddy puddles after days of rain, an AFP correspondent said.

Abu Qassem said he and his family had been struggling for days to keep their tent in the Maaret Misrin district dry.

"We've been swimming in water for three days now," the father of eight said.

"Water has seeped into our tents and the women are trying to bail it out."

Nearby, rescue workers from the White Helmets group worked with bulldozers to remove excess mud.

"The camp has turned into a lake, tents in it," Mahmud al-Allawi, another resident, said.

"No words can describe our suffering," the 24-year-old added.

'Miserable conditions'

On Sunday, in a camp in the Kafr Uruq area, some residents tried to sweep the mud from the entrance to their tents, the same reporter said.

Thick woolen blankets cast over some dwellings to keep out the cold were sopping wet.

The luckiest adults and children were wearing rubber boots, but others ran around in the puddles in light sportswear, trousers rolled up to the knee and open-toe plastic slip-ons.

Senior UN humanitarian official Mark Cutts described "miserable conditions in the flooded displacement camps in Idlib and other areas".

"And more bad weather to come, with forecasts of snow and temperatures dropping to -3 degrees Celsius in the coming days," he tweeted on Tuesday.

Save the Children said many were now looking for shelter.

"Tens of thousands of people scattered to find shelter from the ongoing storm in schools and mosques," it said.

"Others were forced to sleep in the open air last night, in temperatures below zero."

The Idlib bastion is home to around three million inhabitants, around half of them displaced by the nearly 10-year-old war from other parts of the country.

Among the displaced are tens of thousands who fled a government offensive that whittled away at the south of the extremist-dominated region last winter.

Syria's war has killed over 387,000 people and displaced millions.

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