Reasons to fear the coming winter season in SyriaPublished: Nov 11, 2020 Reading time: 3 minutes
1. Attacks on civilians continue and existing ceasefire breaks.
It is deeply concerning to see an increase of violence against civilians and aid workers in the past weeks. The attacks include airstrikes, shelling, explosions and assassinations and have mainly taken place in the provinces of Idlib and Aleppo, where humanitarian needs are already great. Attacks on civilian persons imply a violation of the International Humanitarian Law, also known as the rules of war, and breaks the existing ceasefire agreed earlier this year. According to UN OCHA, 20 September saw the highest number of recorded airstrikes in a single day since the ceasefire was agreed, with 28 airstrikes reported.
2. Impossible prices. Syrians struggle to buy food.
According to data from the World Food Programme, the price of an average food basket has increased 236 % over the past 12 months in Syria. Overall, the current price is 21.8 times higher than the average price recorded in 2010. Among other reasons, this is a consequence of the extreme devaluation of the Syrian Pound. And this doesn’t exclusively affect food: according to a recent REACH assessment, the cost of the most basic survival items (SMEB), which includes commodities and services, increased on average by 75.5% in the last 6 months in northern Syria. MORE here.
3. Worst displacement wave since the beginning of the war took place just a few months ago.
In fact, the worst displacement since the beginning of the war only occurred earlier this year, with almost 700,000 people fleeing violence in 10 weeks’ time. Those people on the move survived last year’s winter. This coming winter, most of them as well as those previously displaced will be facing a humanitarian catastrophe again. An estimated 6.2 million Syrians have been internally displaced, 2.7 million of them in the northwest of the country and most forced into displacement already several times. Overall, over 11 million need humanitarian assistance across Syria. More here.
4. The effects of the year’s first rains have already transformed camps – people living in mud.
The upcoming winter season promises to be extremely difficult for the Syrian population in NWS, especially considering the lack of affordable shelter and winter items, like clothes, heating fuel and blankets. The first rains and string winds of the season are already proving to be a challenge for many people living in camps and informal settlements. According to the most recent REACH Humanitarian Situation Overview, 74% of people in northwest Syria reported that winter items are unaffordable. The same assessment showed that most (52%) of internally displaced people live in tents, while another 46% are in unfinished, abandoned or damaged buildings.
5. COVID-19 unleashed.
The virus is spreading unchecked throughout all parts of Syria. According to official data, there are more than 5,500 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 (including 278 fatalities). However, the actual caseload across the country is estimated to be much higher due to vast under-reporting and a severe lack of testing capacity. The areas of most concern are those densely populated areas, camps, and informal settlements, as well as areas where hostilities are ongoing. More here.
6. Resilience at its lowest – after 9 years of war.
Sadly, most of the people in need of aid we interview share very similar feelings about how exhausted they are after 9 years of war, how they can’t sleep at night, how they can’t even secure food and basic needs and how they already lost everything they had. They just want to live in peace and go back to their homes.