Each winter, harsh weather conditions take their toll on people forced to leave their homes. One example is the camps in Syria’s Idlib that shelter thousands of displaced people.
According to data from the United Nations, 13 million Syrians have been displaced since the onset of the civil war a decade ago, 6.6 million of which are refugees who have sought shelter abroad.
7 million Syrians, on the other hand, have been internally displaced, constituting “the world’s largest population of internally displaced people.”
Northwestern Syria, where Idlib is located, is home to approximately 2.7 million displaced people, with 1.6 million of them in camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs).
Forced to flee their homes, these people often live in poor conditions that cannot adequately support them, especially during winter.
Displaced people at camps have to face winter in tents or makeshift shelters that are not well insulated, nor strong enough to withstand harsh weather conditions, leaving people in a constant struggle to remain warm.
As winter devastates the barely sufficient resources that camps can offer, people who sought shelter at camps fall back into what can be considered a vicious cycle of displacement with increased risk to their health.
Last winter, over 196 IDP sites and well over 67,000 people were affected by floods triggered by heavy rainfall in Idlib and Aleppo as of the end of January according to a report from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
Harsh weather conditions during winter months also exacerbate existing problems - namely worsening economic conditions, hunger, conflict, turmoil, and the pandemic.
Aside from inadequate shelters, people at camps often lack suitable clothing and footwear for winter conditions as well. Some can even be seen walking through mud and puddles in slippers.
The clothes and blankets that they do have are at risk of being swept away when their tents get flooded, washing away with other belongings and even food supplies.