Syria

Syria Crisis: Northeast Syria Situation Report No. 20 (1 - 31 December 2017)

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Situation Report
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Highlights

  • The overall humanitarian and protection situation for civilians displaced from Ar-Raqqa city remains of high concern, particularly with regard to the impact of explosive hazards contamination on safe returns and safe access for humanitarian actors. According to the US-led Coalition, between 20 October 2017 and 3 January 2018, explosive hazards have reportedly killed 220 civilians and injured hundreds of others in Ar-Raqqa city.

  • In Deir-ez-Zor city, military operations and associated heavy aerial attacks have reportedly resulted in explosive hazards contamination. While the scope and scale remains unknown, this contamination is a major protection concern for IDPs who may return to their homes, while also impeding safe and timely delivery of humanitarian assistance.

  • The number of IDPs in main IDP camps in northeast Syria continues to decline, but remains significantly above existing camp capacities. In addition to concerns with regards to the camp overcrowding, serious protection concerns prevail in relation to recruitment, including child recruitment as well as gender-based violence (GBV)-related challenges for women and girls.

220 civilians reportedly killed due to explosive hazards in Ar-Raqqa city between 20 October 2017 and 3 January 2018.

48,000 people returning to their communities of origin in Ar-Raqqa city since October 2017. 229,700 people displaced from and within Deir-ez-Zor governorate between 1 July and 12 December (Source:
CCCM Cluster).

318,885 people reached with food assistance from 1 – 31 December in Ar-Raqqa, Aleppo, Al-Hassakeh and Deir-ez-Zor governorates.

Situation Overview

Ar-Raqqa Governorate

Explosive hazards contamination continues to hamper humanitarian access and poses a serious threat to the returning population. Clearance operations have started in certain areas of the city, focusing on key infrastructures.

The scale and scope of the contamination is not fully known given the absence of systematic survey. The UN and humanitarian partners continue to emphasize that, due to the high prevalence of explosive hazards, Ar-Raqqa city and surrounding areas are not safe for civilian returns. According to the US-led Coalition, between 20 October 2017 and 3 January 2018, 220 civilians were killed and hundreds of others injured due to presence of explosive hazards in Ar-Raqqa city. Blast victims remain overwhelmingly male.

In addition to the threat posed by explosive hazards, up to 80 per cent of all buildings in Ar-Raqqa city are severely damaged, and at risk of collapse. An unconfirmed number of corpses reportedly remain trapped under the rubble, posing a public health risk. Rubble removal campaigns continue in many neighborhoods, however, many residents reported to have paid for the cleaning of their streets by themselves.

The main water station serving Ar-Raqqa city and surrounding areas is reportedly functioning at limited capacity due to damage to the water network. Water trucking services are reportedly available in some neighborhoods; however, a severe shortage of drinking water continues to be a major problem in most neighborhoods. One health clinic is operating in the Al Ma’amoun neighborhood and some private pharmacies have opened in Ar-Raqqa city. Three medical practices have been re-opened by the first three doctors to return to the city. However, access to medicines and medical equipment remains limited.

Economic activity is slowly returning to the city with both small shops and larger workshops in the industrial zone of Ar-Raqqa city resuming their activities. The local sheep market, known locally as Al Makaf, has been re-opened againfor selling and purchasing livestock. Additionally, 37 bakeries have reportedly been re-opened across Ar-Raqqa governorate.

Deir-ez-Zor Governorate

Ongoing clashes between the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and Government of Syria (GoS) forces in southern rural Deir-ez-Zor governorate continued along the western bank of the Euphrates River. At the same time, Syria Democratic Forces (SDF) reportedly advanced along the eastern bank of the Euphrates River, establishing control over Hajin town, in Hajin sub-district. During the reporting period, 148 civilians were reportedly killed and hundreds more injured across Deir-ez-Zor governorate.

Military operations and heavy aerial attacks have reportedly resulted in explosive hazards contamination. While the scope and scale remains unknown, contamination is a major protection concern for IDPs who may return to their homes, including to areas where IDP sites’ administration have announced return as feasible. Explosive hazards risk education is currently provided to IDPs originally from Deir-ez-Zor in IDP sites to promote safe behaviours and ensure that people who decide to return are aware of the risks they may face.

Humanitarian needs remain high throughout the governorate. Access to the main water network remains challenging for most communities in the governorate. Disrupted supply routes continue to limit the quantity of food available. On 12 December, a Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) convoy delivered assistance for some 15,000 people (food, health and other relief items) to Abu Kamal city. The relief aid was provided by ICRC, IFRC and the UN. On 28 December, 26 IFRC trucks carrying 10,000 food baskets, 10,000 hygiene kits and 10,000 canned food reached Deir-ez-Zor city.

Access to healthcare is limited. The Assad Hospital is reportedly partially functioning, while the military hospital and a medical facility in the Al-Qasour neighborhood sometimes accept patients. However, all three facilities remain unable to satisfy the demand for medical support in Deir-ez-Zor city. Four new cases of Circulating Vaccine-Derived Poliovirus type 2 (cVDPV2) were reported in Deir-ez-Zor governorate during the reporting period, bringing the total number of confirmed cVDPV2 cases to 74. On 8 December, the Deir-ez-Zor Directorate of Health (DoH) launched a routine vaccination campaign in Abu Kamal sub-district targeting 1,116 children aged ten months to ten years old, and a polio vaccination campaign targeting 900 children aged one day to five years old. On 2 January, 60 cases of leishmaniosis were reported by the Deir-ez-Zor DoH and NGO staff members in the western and eastern countryside of Deir-ez-Zor governorate.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.