Since the beginning of September 2017, conflict has escalated in Deir-ez-Zor governorate as multiple parties have attempted to expel the group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) from the governorate. The ongoing conflict has sparked large-scale displacement across the governorate, with an estimated 320,000 persons displaced in September and October alone.
This report aims to assess the current humanitarian situation in communities in Deir-ez-Zor governorate that have been affected by recent conflict. Findings are based on primary data collected between 7 and 12 November through interviews with 62 Key Informants (KIs) reporting on 53 communities across the governorate. This follows a previous assessment, conducted prior to escalation of conflict in May 2017 when the majority of the governorate was controlled by ISIL, which gives an indication of the situation prior to the recent escalation of conflict, as well as an overview of displacement following initial movements from the governorate.
Deir-ez-Zor Governorate - Situation Overview
• Since the escalation of conflict in Deir-ez-Zor governorate in September 2017, more than 320,000 people have been displaced. 200,000 displacements were recorded in October alone and, according to KIs, outward movement is expected to continue from 35 assessed communities across the governorate over the next two weeks. Although exact populations are difficult to confirm due to shifting IDP flows, KIs estimated that 58 of 135 communities in Deir-ez-Zor governorate are uninhabited.
• Residents are living in damaged and vulnerable shelter types across the governorate. KIs reported that residents are sheltering in damaged buildings in 18 of 53 assessed communities. In 31 assessed communities there are reportedly residents sheltering in either unfinished buildings, collective centres or informal tented settlements.
• Nearly all assessed communities are reportedly unable to access the main water network, and most face issues with water quality. Prior to the escalation of conflict, approximately half of communities in the governorate accessed water via the main network,3 which was reportedly the case in just six assessed communities at the time of assessment. To cope with reduced access to water, communities are relying on previously stored water, purchasing water with cash usually reserved for other purposes, and in some instances reducing water consumption or drinking unsafe water.
• Although markets are reportedly operating in the majority of assessed communities, most are not fully functional and access is challenging. Safety and security concerns both at markets and when travelling to markets are the primary challenges to accessing food, while disrupted supply routes are limiting the quantity of food available. Communities are therefore relying on personal farming for food and in most cases are engaging in coping strategies such as limiting portion sizes and skipping meals.
• Challenges accessing stable income sources have increased. Prior to escalation of conflict, the most commonly reported sources of income related to agricultural production. At the time of the assessment, however, KIs reported that the primary sources of income are remittances from outside of Syria and savings. Income from employment is mostly from high risk illegal work or unstable daily jobs.
• Although the majority of assessed communities have some health facilities available, KIs reported a major lack of qualified medical personnel and equipment. Most health facilities are private clinics, primary care facilities or informal emergency care points. The two hospitals identified by KIs, in Deir-ez-Zor and Abu Kamal cities, are reportedly not fully functional. The main health service needs are surgery, emergency care and skilled care for childbirth.
• Deir-ez-Zor city is reportedly the only location in the governorate in which formal education is available. Schools and universities are reportedly functioning normally in the city. Although informal ad hoc education was reportedly available in a handful of communities, KIs reported that no education of any kind was available in 42 of the assessed communities.
• Conflict presents the most pressing threat to the safety of the population of Deir-ez-Zor governorate and freedom of movement is severely curtailed. Other issues reportedly faced in the last two weeks include threat from airstrikes, indirect fire, improvised explosive devices, errant gunfire and forced recruitment.