Camps of displaced people in northwestern Syria have been flooded after heavy rains. Around 14 camps have been affected in Idlib, a UN official says.

Displaced Syrians cross a flooded area near Deir al Ballut refugee camp in Afrin's countryside, along Syria's northern border with Turkey on March 31, 2019.
Displaced Syrians cross a flooded area near Deir al Ballut refugee camp in Afrin's countryside, along Syria's northern border with Turkey on March 31, 2019. (AFP)

More than 40,000 displaced people in northwestern Syria have seen their camps flooded by heavy rains in the past three days, a United Nations spokesman said on Tuesday.

Around 14 camps were affected in the northwestern province of Idlib, David Swanson of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs told AFP.

Idlib is home to more than three million people - more than half of them displaced by the country's eight-year war.

Civil defence workers known as the White Helmets have been working to save people and their scant belongings from the rising muddy waters.

"For the second day in a row, White Helmets... continue to respond to the catastrophic situation in the northern Syria camps," they said on Twitter late Monday.

Civilians affected

One video posted by the group on Sunday showed brown water cascading out of a flooded tent.

In another published the same day, civil defence workers clung on to a rope as they waded through a brown torrent above knee level.

The downpour has affected tens of thousands of civilians, displaced persons, crops and livestock in Idlib, as well as in the Aleppo and Hasakeh provinces since Saturday, Swanson said.

In Aleppo province, tents were destroyed in several camps for the displaced and a hospital in the countryside had to shut down due to the flooding.

Turkey has been pushing to disarm extremist groups in Idlib, primarily HTS, which Ankara designated as a terrorist organisation in August 2018, in an attempt to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe.

As a result of HTS attacks on its rival in Idlib, the Turkey-backed National Liberation Front (NLF) agreed to strike a deal in January with the group in an attempt to put an end to the fighting. 

Syria's war has killed more than 370,000 people and displaced millions since starting in 2011 with the repression of anti-regime protests.

Tens of thousands of displaced Syrians in the north of the country depend on handouts from humanitarian aid groups, including food, blankets and heating fuel for the winter months.

Source: AFP