An offensive against the group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in late August, followed by a rapid escalation in conflict in northern Hama in mid-September, resulted in large-scale displacement, both within and out of the governorate to neighbouring Idleb. In December, 44% of the assessed communities reported that pre-conflict populations left their community due to escalated conflict. Despite ongoing conflict in the governorate, seven communities witnessed spontaneous returns, particularly in Hama subdistrict.
Overall, KIs reported that an estimated 1,815 - 2,830 people returned to assessed communities in December.
The largest number of returnees was reported in Jirbeen (800 – 1,200). All communities witnessing refugee returns reported that refugees were returning from Lebanon, and two of these communities reported that refugees were also returning from Iraq. Family reunification was cited as the most common reason why both refugees and IDPs returned to assessed communities in Hama. IDPs were present in six communities, yet four of them reported that some IDPs left their community again in December. Of the four communities that witnessed IDP departures in December, three reported that IDPs left due to an escalation of conflict.
Out of the 48 communities assessed, 5 reported that between 76-100% of buildings in their community were damaged. Nonetheless, residents in four of these communities predominantly lived in independent apartments or houses, although two out of the four reported that no rooms were available for rent, indicating a shortage of adequate shelter. The average reported rent price in the other two communities was approximately 11,000 SYP, almost twice as high as the Syrian average rent price. Of the communities assessed, 7 reported having no electricity source in November, yet all but one of these communities, Maan, reported that there was no lack of fuel. Of the assessed communities, 19 reported functional problems with their latrines and 30 reported that garbage was either buried, burned or left in the street or other public areas.
Of these communities, 10 reported that water either tasted or smelled bad, or made people sick. Rainwater was the most common source of drinking water in Mazhal. Out of the 48 assessed communities, 36 reported barriers to accessing healthcare, 32 reported that none of the assessed medical items were available in their community in December and 20 reported the use of coping strategies to deal with a lack of medical supplies.
Of the communities assessed, 79% reported that residents experienced difficulties in accessing sufficient amounts of food, the most common being the high price of some food items. The governorate average food basket price, 29,500 SYP, was the third highest (after Deir ez-Zor and Rural Damascus) across the 11 governorates assessed, and 58% or more of the average household income. Malnutrition was the most commonly reported health problem across communities assessed in Hama in December. In the 31 communities that reported prohibitive prices, remittances and the sale of household assets were the most commonly cited sources of income, thereby indicating a need for stable livelihood opportunities in the governorate. Severe food coping strategies were reported in 4 communities and children in 8 communities were reportedly sent to work or beg. Only 21 communities reported that most children had access to education. Of the remaining 27 communities, only 1 reported that children were able to attend educational facilities in nearby areas.