Syria Crisis: Ar-Raqqa Situation Report No. 10 (19-26 June 2017) [EN/AR]
Displacements from and within Ar-Raqqa governorate continued due to fighting and heavy airstrikes. An estimated 184,705 people have been displaced since 1 April, including over 108,000 people since 1 May.
Increasing displacement from Deir-Ez-Zor prompted a request by the Kurdish SelfAdministration to the UN to open new sites for people attempting to flee the area.
The overall protection situation for civilians remains of high concern. There are increasing fears that civilians may remain trapped in fighting in urban areas, with ISIL reportedly placing heavy restrictions on civilians attempting to flee the area.
Freedom of movement for IDPs also remains a key protection concern, despite continuous advocacy efforts. The presence of UXOs is also a concern.
Following the opening of the land-route from Aleppo to Qamishli, the airlift to Qamishli was phased out on 24 June.
During the reporting period, the humanitarian situation continued to deteriorate inside Ar-Raqqa city as the Syrian Defense Forces (SDF) closed in on the city, where an estimated 50,00-100,000 people remain. Since the offensive began, heavy clashes, increased shelling, and intensified airstrikes resulted in significant civilian casualties and injuries as thousands of people fled Ar-Raqqa city.
Due to a lack of electricity, a general lack of diesel to operate generators and a damaged pumping station, the water supply inside Ar-Raqqa city has been limited since 1 June. Residents are reportedly depending on water trucked from the Euphrates River that is unfit for consumption, exposing people to the risk of water-borne diseases. In addition, local sources reported declining water levels flowing from the Euphrates River, further complicating availability of water and electricity. At the same time, medical services inside the city are severely curtailed, as only nine doctors reportedly remain inside the city. There are further reports of fuel and food commodities becoming scarce. Most bakeries went out of service as they lacked flour and diesel. Residents continue to attempt to flee the city via the river, damaged bridges and land routes, although Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant(ISIL) is reportedly preventing civilians from leaving.
Since the beginning of military operations to gain control of Ar-Raqqa city on 6 June, SDF forces reportedly made new advances in Ar-Raqqa city and took over five districts in the reporting period. On 19 June, airstrikes and shelling on Ar-Raqqa city reportedly killed at least nine people. On the same day, ISIL reportedly executed three people in Rattla town on charges of collaboration with the Syria Democratic Forces. Also, a mine explosion in the Al-Kasrat Mansura area reportedly killed three internally displaced persons(IDPs) on June 19. On 20 June, SDF reportedly exerted control over locations in close proximity of the two bridges that connect Ar-Raqqa city with the southern countryside.
Freedom of movement inside IDP camps in SDF-controlled areas also remains a key protection concern. IDPs continue to report that their documents are sometimes not returned from the camp administration after completion of the screening process. Within the IDP population, male IDPs between the ages of 18-40 years are noticeably underrepresented, and many reportedly stay behind due to fear of forced military conscription, arrest and detention at checkpoints by SDF forces, death if caught by ISIL, and the possibility of remaining in their areas of origin to defend their property from looting and confiscation.
During the reporting period, reports of a large conscription campaign being launched by the Kurdish SelfAdministration in SDF-held areas in north-eastern Syria emerged.The campaign reportedly targets men between 18 – 30 years, irrespective of place of origin and ethnicity and alledgedly includes IDPs, even if originating from other governorates. Hundreds of young people have been reportedly recruited over the past few days.
Meanwhile, displacement from the city continues. IDPs newly arriving to Ein Issa Camp reported challenges in fleeing Ar-Raqqa city due to the presence of unexploded ordnances (UXOs) on exit routes, fear of retaliation from ISIL, and a general lack of resources. IDPs also reported that they were avoiding to use cars during their displacement, due to a fear of indiscriminate attacks. Should SDF advances continue in the direction of the two bridges, Ar-Raqqa city will be completely encircled. Furthermore, as the SDF’s campaign against ISIL continues, clashes, shelling, and usage of improvised explosive devices (IED) are likely to intensify in Ar-Raqqa city. This increasingly puts civilians trapped in Ar-Raqqa in the line of fire, as ISIL forces may also continue to prevent civilians from leaving Ar-Raqqa city.
During the reporting period, renewed clashes occurred between GoS and ISIL in Deir-ez-Zor city and its surrounding neighborhoods. Furthermore, airstrikes on Beqres town, Al-Shimtiya and Muhassan reportedly killed several civilians including women and children. On 16 June, due to heavy airstrikes, about 250 people reportedly fled Abu Kamal city near the Iraq border in Deir-ez-Zor to the countryside. Airstrikes targeting Al Mayadin City on 17 June reportedly resulted in the death of a family of four, as well as the injury of 12 other people. On 21 June, airstrikes on the AlSheikh Yasin neighborhood in Deir-ez-Zor city and Khesahm town in eastern rural Deir Ez-Zor allegedly killed a total of 18 people (including 3 children and 2 women) and injured many others.
The UN continues to provides basic food, nutrition, NFI, WASH and medical supplies to people in need in besieged parts of Deir-ez-Zor city through WFP-led airdrops. Continued clashes however, are generating further risks to the delivery of humanitarian aid should landing sites for aid become unsafe.
Civilians continue to be subjected to violence; humanitarian aid is limited and basic services, especially medical care, is lacking. This week, 11 new cases of cVDPV2 were identified, bringing the total number of cases to 22 (21 in Mayadeen district in Deir-ez-Zor governorate and 1 case from Raqqa district in Raqqa governorate). WHO is coordinating a response with relevant health partners. At the same time, some 50 reported cases of diarrhea due to unsafe water in the western besieged enclaves of Deir- Ez Zor city were reported. On 14 June, about 100 cases of asthma were reported due to sand storms, with no proper medical services.