Record-breaking low temperatures and heavy snowstorms have swept across much of the Middle East, from Gaza to Turkey, in recent weeks, adding to the misery of the displaced people living in makeshift tent camps due to years of war in Syria.
Freezing winter weather in war-torn northwestern Syria claimed the lives of two infants in separate displaced persons camps, a doctor and a war monitor group said Tuesday.
In northwestern Syria, 80% of the displaced population that lives in overcrowded informal camps are women and children, according to the International Rescue Committee, a humanitarian aid organization.
Dr. Mazen al-Talawi, the medical director of the Al-Rahman specialist hospital in the Idlib village of Haranbush, confirmed the deaths of two infants from nearby displaced persons camps.
Fatima Mohammad al-Mahmoud was from the al-Laith camp. Only 7 days old, she was brought to the hospital at 2 a.m. “with cold limbs, dilapidated pupils and was unresponsive,” al-Talawi told The Associated Press (AP) by phone.
Amina Mohammad Salama, 2 months old, from the Huwar al-Ais camp, arrived at the hospital cold and blue with low blood sugar and extreme pulmonary bleeding at 1 p.m. on Monday. “We admitted her, but her situation worsened and worsened until she died at 6 a.m.,” al-Talawi said.
Roughly 7,000 people live in the town of Haranbush, surrounded by 70,000 people living in neighboring camps, according to al-Talawi. He said the hospital is inundated with cases because of the cold temperatures.
“We try to get children out of here in a few days because of the enormous number of cases that are coming in. The hospital only has 15 beds for children and eight cribs. The space is tight and we have no ability to do more,” he said.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based Syria war monitor, also reported the deaths, calling on the international community and humanitarian organizations to help the displaced living in the camps.
Facing an unrelenting winter, displaced civilians living in tents in Syria's northwestern Idlib region, the last opposition bastion, burn their clothes to keep warm through the night. Around 3 million refugees live there, most of them displaced in camps, according to the United Nations.
Families who were forced to leave their homes due to the attacks of the Bashar Assad regime and its supporters were already struggling with poverty and now must also endure adverse weather conditions.
Turkish aid agencies and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) continue to assist those in urgent need in northwestern Syria. Many Turkish NGOs and state agencies, including the Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD), the Turkish Red Crescent (Kızılay) and Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH), are providing vital humanitarian aid and conducting humanitarian efforts in the region.
Idlib falls within a de-escalation zone forged under an agreement between Turkey and Russia in March 2020. However, the Syrian regime has consistently violated the terms of the cease-fire, launching frequent attacks inside the de-escalation zone.