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Three children drown in Syria's Idlib after rare summer rain sweeps through camps

Internally displaced residents demand aid organisations build new camps made of stone rather than cloth
Children walk in muddy water at a camp for the internally displaced in northwestern Idlib province (MEE/Mustafa Dahnon)
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Idlib, Syria

Three children have died after rare and heavy summertime rain in the northwestern Syrian governorate of Idlib which damaged several tents of internally displaced people (IDPs) in a number of camps.

The children, who were refugees living in houses near one of the camps, drowned while they were swimming in a pool of water left behind by the downpour.

"We were eating breakfast and suddenly the clouds gathered and the rains started to fall abundantly," Mustafa al-Diri, one displaced Syrian, told Middle East Eye.

"In less than five minutes, our tent was destroyed.

"The rain water mixed with the sewage water inside the camp, all our things became wet and became unfit for use until the food got wet and we had nothing left to sleep on.

"My five children and I tried to carry what we could away from the rain and water, but the land became mud and we could not get anything out".

Nearly a million people fled to border camps in December and earlier this year, seeking safety from the Syrian government and Russian bombs. 

Since a ceasefire was reached between Turkey and Russia in March, thousands have returned to their hometowns in opposition-held rural Idlib and Aleppo provinces, but they remain a fraction of those who continue to take shelter in the camps along the Turkish border. 

idlib flood
A child looks at a flooded tent in an IDP camp in Idlib (MEE/Mustafa Dahnon)

“We were forced out of our house five months ago as a result of heavy shelling on our town,” Hussein Ezz al-Din, from the town of Maarat al-Naasan, said.

"We didn't have anything except some simple furniture with us that we managed to take out, and now the rain water has deprived us of it and we have nothing left to live on.

"One of the organisations gave us a relief basket several days ago, and today its contents are destroyed by the rain.

"We live in tents that neither protect us from the heat of the summer or the cold of winter, and we hope that we can return to our homes.

"We demand the organisations build new camps of stones instead of cloth, so they may be more durable."

At another nearby IDP camp, Abdullah al-Satouf told MEE that most of the residents had to take shelter in a neighbouring village until the morning, and then went back to their camp to try to rebuild their tents. 

“Most of the people are now removing their furniture from the tents to expose them to the sun to dry, and to clean the mud off them, so they can be used again," he said.

Nearly a million people fled to border camps in December and earlier this year, seeking safety from the Syrian government and Russian bombs (MEE/Mustafa Dahnon)
Nearly a million people fled to border camps in December and earlier this year, seeking safety from the Syrian government and Russian bombs (MEE/Mustafa Dahnon)