Syria’s brutal winter flooded displacement camps, destroyed tents and brought freezing cold

Tens of thousands of Syrians are enduring a brutal winter in flimsy tents spread across the country’s northwest. Temperatures have plummeted to the minus figures while heavy rains have brought floods that have swept away tents and soaked people’s bedding and clothes. With heaters and fuel scarce, many have struggled to combat the freezing temperatures and dry out their homes.

The Oscar-nominated Aleppo Media Centre (AMC) has spent the past five weeks filming in displacement camps in the Syrian province of Idlib, capturing footage of the flooding and speaking to residents who say they are desperate for aid in the form of fuel, food and clothes.

From Shamsa, an 11-year-old girl who survived the bombing of Aleppo, to a mother who has spent six years living in a displacement camp with her children, everyone AMC spoke to told of the hardship they are facing and the abandonment they feel.

Though aid and humanitarian organisations like the White Helmets are now beginning to reach the camps, AMC say they are not numerous enough nor well-resourced enough to help all of the displaced. In recent months, international governments have cut aid to local organisations in northwest Syria, fearing the money could fall into militants’ hands. As a result, 3 million civilians, including more than a million displaced people, face being deprived of basic needs like healthcare and education.

In the camps, AMC found that 70% of the tents they visited had flooded with some people forced to uproot their homes and move them to higher land to get away from the water. Many residents said this situation was inevitable—a consequence of living in tents that are old and not sufficiently weather-proofed.

“We had no other option. We were forced to come here,” says Nadine, who lost five family members to airstrikes. “We have no refuge except here. We have been hit by floods, everything we owned was soaked. In the summer we can’t bear the heat and in the winter we sink in the floods. There is no middle solution ever.”