In Douma, ‘people have returned to an age before electricity’

In one East Ghouta city, the extreme heat from record-breaking temperatures in the Middle East with no relief in sight means that “people have returned to an age before electricity,” Ayman Abu Anas, a member of the opposition’s Douma City Coordination Council, told Syria Direct on Wednesday.

Temperatures in East Ghouta’s rebel-controlled Douma have reached 45 degrees Celsius (113 degrees Fahrenheit) in recent days.

“There isn’t any way to cool down in the city, but we try to mitigate the heat by bathing repeatedly, hiding out inside and buying ice to cool water,” a citizen in Douma told Syria Direct Wednesday.

For more than two years, the collection of towns east of Damascus comprising East Ghouta have been completely encircled by regime forces, with little movement in or out. The estimated one million civilians stuck in what is essentially a prison often lack electricity, water, fuel and medical supplies.

Civilians cope by making do with what is available. On Tuesday, a young Douman used a computer fan for what he considered a more relevant purpose: the cooling of humans rather than computer parts.

While notable from a creative perspective, the fan, says Abu Anas of the opposition’s City Council, does not work so well.

“One of the kids in the city built a fan out of several computer fans that runs on a 12-volt battery,” said Abu Anas, adding, “it isn’t very effective.”

The price of a battery for this fan in East Ghouta is now SP50,000 ($264) , “and you can’t recharge it without electricity,” Abu Anas said. “Plus, electricity is only available in houses for two hours a day at a cost of SP5,500 ($29) per month.”

Even the most basic of solutions to find a respite from the heat is a luxury few of Douma’s citizens can afford.

A kilo of ice costs SP130 ($.69), said the Douma resident, who asked to remain anonymous.

-Photo courtesy of Douma LCC.

Ammar Hamou

Ammar Hammou is from Douma city in outer Damascus. He studied journalism at Damascus University and left Syria in 2011. Follow Ammar on Twitter: @Ammar_Hamou.

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.