Amidst dropping temperatures, Latakia’s internally displaced ‘suffering greatly’

Syrians who have recently fled their homes in opposition-controlled northern Latakia to escape Russian bombardment are struggling to prepare for winter amidst dropping temperatures.

“Most of the local population in the Jabal al-Akrad and Jabel Turkman mountains have fled their villages” north towards the Turkish border after Russian airstrikes started targeting rebels in northern Latakia, Ahmad Hajj Bakri, a citizen journalist in one of the camps, told Syria Direct on Sunday.

But Turkey sealed its borders with Syria over a month ago for security reasons and in preparation for the current elections, Bakri said.

Internally displaced persons along the Latakia-Turkey border have since formed 3 new makeshift camps in addition to 11 already existing ones, each made up of approximately 150 families (IDPs) with more arriving every day, said Bakri.

Before the recent Russian-prompted wave of new arrivals, thousands of Syrians already lived in makeshift camps, in the mountainous northern Latakia countryside, having fled fighting in Jisr a-Shughour and Sahl al-Ghab in the northwest Hama countryside. 

Despite hasty preparations made by a few local Syrian and Gulf aid organizations, “the internally displaced in the camps are suffering greatly,” Abu Ahmad al-Lataki, the Director of the pro-opposition Latakia Media Center, told Syria Direct on Sunday.

“Some of the internally displaced still don’t have a shelter and seek refuge in trees and orchards to escape the cold,” said al-Lataki, adding that they have to walk 500 meters (approximately a third of a mile) to use the bathroom and get drinking water. All of this has resulted in a “serious health situation.” 

Already fearing the coming winter months, the director of six of these older camps “implored all humanitarian organizations for help” in early October, citing insufficient supplies to winterize and tattered tents as major challenges.

Photo courtesy of Step News Agency

Ghalia Muhkalalati

Ghalia Muhkhalalati holds a degree in computer science, where she attained the third highest grade in Syria for her year. She worked as a private teacher for displaced persons when the revolution began and arrived in Jordan in 2013.

Noura Hourani

Noura Hourani is from Latakia province. She studied English Literature at Tishreen University and previously worked as a private English tutor in Syria. She has worked at Syria Direct since 2015 and was named the 2018 Middle East and North Africa Laureate for the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers' (WAN-IFRA) Women in News Editorial Leadership Award.

Samuel Kieke

Samuel Kieke was a 2014-2015 CASA I fellow in Amman, Jordan. He received his BA from the University of Texas at Austin in Arabic Language and Literature, Middle Eastern Studies, and International Relations and Global Studies.

Bayan al-Ahmad

Bayan was focused on completing her university degree. The war in Syria made that goal difficult, however, she was able to do so. The situation in her hometown of Al-Hasakah worsened and she was forced to flee to Jordan.