Syria Crisis: Ar-Raqqa Situation Report No. 6 (as of 23 May 2017)
SDF advances east and west of Ar-Raqqa city resulted in the displacement of over 20,000 people bringing the total number of IDPs tracked since November 2016 to almost 200,000.
The Self Administration reportedly decided to enact a rule to prevent IDPs from Ar-Raqqa governorate from leaving Ein Issa camp. Camp management authorities later indicated the rule will not be enforced.
An estimated 400 families fled their homes in residential neighborhoods in western Ar-Raqqa city to the western countryside due to flooding in five residential neighborhoods.
More than 15,000 IDPs returned to Al-Thawrah (Tabqa) town, where commodities are available but insufficient in quantity
Intense airstrikes and shelling continued across Ar-Raqqa Governorate, affecting civilians and vital infrastructure.
Humanitarian partners and UN agencies continued to respond to the growing needs of IDPs, through the distribution of multi-sectoral assistance.
23,544 people displaced from 18 - 22 May
8,230 People reached with food assistance from 15 -22 May in Ein Issa camp
200 Children per day benefit from child friendly spaces in Ein Issa camp
More than 95,000 People reached with WASH assistance between 15 -22 May
During the reporting period, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) continued advances against ISIL in Ar-Raqqa countryside. Clashes and attacks persisted across the governorate, impacting civilians and critical infrastructure. As of May 22, SDF advanced its perimeter surrounding Ar-Raqqa city, capturing several villages to the west, north and northeast of the city. As of the end of the reporting period, SDF were only a few kilometers from the city.
Some 20,000 IDPs reached Ein Issa camp over the last week, including 9,000 individuals who arrived on 15-16 May alone. However, local sources reported that, as of May 18, less than 3,000 people remained in the camp following the SDF agreeing that those people from Menbij and Al-Tabqa staying in the camp could leave and return to Membij.
On May 22, unconfirmed reports indicated that ‘thousands’ of IDPs originating from Ar-Raqqa city began to reach Ein Issa camp. It is anticipated that additional IDPs from Ar-Raqqa and surrounding villages will continue to move towards Ein Issa, especially as SDF-led offensives into Ar-Raqqa city begin.
In the past week, reports emerged that local authorities prevented IDPs originating from Ar-Raqqa governorate to leave Ein Issa camp by confiscating ID cards and travel documents. Camp authorities have since indicated the rules will not be enforced and that IDPs will continue to be able to leave the camps provided they find sponsors.
Meanwhile, a new camp near the eastern entrance of Menbij town in Aleppo governorate, Rasm Alakhdar village, was opened to provide additional support for IDPs from Ar-Raqqa. Ongoing reports of detention and restrictions of freedom of movement of IDPs originating from Ar-Raqqa continue to raise concerns.
In Ar-Raqqa city, food prices continued to increase. Anecdotal reports indicate that bread prices in ISIL controlled areas have increased 25% in the past week due to decreased availability of fuel and wheat flour. Water is reportedly available for 4 hours per day on average and not adequately purified. In the western countryside, water is unavailable after Al-Asadiyeh water pumping station was rendered out of service. There are reported shortages of medical services, supplies and staff. Civilians are relying on generators due to the lack of access to electricity. On May 15, flooding forced an estimated 2,000 people to leave their homes, 120 of which fled the city. Unconfirmed reports indicate that on May 21, an estimated 7,000 people were displaced from 11 neighborhoods in Ar-Raqqa city, after being forced to evacuate by ISIL in order to use the area for military activities. The majority were displaced to SDF controlled areas; others to Aleppo countryside (Al-Bab) and the rest to ISIL controlled areas (other neighborhoods or Ar-Raqqa southern countryside).
IDPs have started to return to Tabqah town after they were displaced in early May due to fighting. It is estimated that about 35,000 people are residing in Tabqah town at the moment compared to 80,000 before the fighting. Water supply is restored in most of the town and local markets are functional again with a variety of goods and products. At least 8 bakeries are functional in the town. The Tabqah dam bridge is open for civilian and commercial movement for 12 hours each day. Technical teams conducted a damage assessment and performed light maintenance on the Tabqah dam. Tabqah town is accessible to some humanitarian partners: one partner reported that it had already distributed 2,000 food kits in the town. Plans are underway to include the town in WFP’s regular food distribution programme (2500 general food rations/ month).