Syrian government arrests hundreds of internally displaced persons in government-controlled shelters

اعداد أمنة رياض | تحرير أمنة رياض | ترجمة غلوري جابر | تحرير الترجمة Vera Halvorsen 🕔 تم النشر بتاريخ : 27 مايو، 2018 6:49:14 م تقرير موضوعي عسكريإغاثي وإنساني نزوح

Turkey - SMART

This spring, the Syrian government, backed by Russia, launched a four-month long violent military campaign against the cities and towns of Eastern Ghouta. The military campaign killed and injured thousands and destroyed infrastructure and homes, forcing thousands to flee to government-controlled areas. After external pressure, the Syrian government reached an agreement with civil and military bodies from the opposition to resettle the people from Damascus and its surroundings to Northern Syria. However, before the resettlement, or displacement, to Northern Syria, many civilians fled to areas controlled by the Syrian government in and around Damascus.

Many of those who fled to the government-controlled areas near Damascus now suffer in makeshift shelters. Hundreds of the internally displaced persons (IDPs) living in the shelters have been detained by the Syrian government security forces, and most of the IDPs in the shelters lack the freedom to move and exit the shelters.

Tens of thousands flocked to shelters and now live in poor humanitarian conditions

The shelters are located on the outskirts of Damascus, including the city of Adra, the al-Wafideen camp, the area of Harjala, and others. The shelters are located in pioneer camps from before the war and centers specifically prepared for the IDPs. Some of the shelters are located in military barracks, institutions of the Syrian government, or schools and mosques in bombed areas, which now contain tents and makeshift rooms within buildings.

The shelters are home to more than 100,000 IDPs, according to a visitor at the shelters who told SMART about the humanitarian organizations that provide assistance to them. The visitor said that the Syrian government forces treat the IDPs in the shelters as "detainees, not as survivors of shelling and military escalation."

The visitor, who preferred to remain anonymous for security reasons, told SMART that the living conditions in the shelters are poor. The shelters rely on external associations and organizations for humanitarian assistance. The visitor also stated that the shelters do not have sufficient sanitary facilities for all the people living there, and most of the electricity is limited to the administration buildings in the shelters. Furthermore, there are no playgrounds for children to engage in social activities. The children are also prevented from going to the local government schools.

A resident of the shelters said that the humanitarian situation is “good,” that "institutions and organizations distribute all food and cleaning materials very well." The resident added that the government forces regularly inspect the IDPs. The most “disturbing” thing to the IDPs in the shelters is that many of them are prevented from leaving.

On April 10, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said that more than 133,000 people were displaced from Eastern Ghouta over five weeks.

The UNHCR spokesman, Andrej Mahecic, said in a statement published on the UNHCR official website that 45,000 IDPs were placed in eight camps in Rif Dimashq, where they suffer from overcrowding, poor sanitation and mobility restrictions.

Hundreds of IDPs were arrested and IDPs pay large sums of money to get out of the shelters

Activists documented hundreds of arrests of IDPs living in the shelters. The arrest campaigns  targeted mainly young men and sometimes women. All detainees were sent to the security branches of the Syrian government, and their fate remains unknown. The Syrian government also enlisted hundreds of the IDPs to compulsory military service.

How the IDPS exit the shelters varies according to the security in each shelter. Some security authorities allow the IDPs to exit easily, and others are more difficult, but in both cases the IDPs have to wait for hours, according to the source who visited the shelters. The source said that at first, everyone was prevented from leaving. Later, married women and their children were allowed to leave. Later still, elderly men and women were allowed to exit the shelters, provided that their relatives live in Damascus or Rif Dimashq. However, men (including young men) are prevented from leaving the shelters, unless they pay large sums of money to members of the government forces in excess of one million Syrian pounds (about 2,000 US dollars). Some chose to volunteer in the ranks of the government forces to protect themselves and their families.

Why did the people go to the shelters?

Many young people and families preferred to stay in the bombed buildings in Damascus and Rif Dimashq rather than going to the areas controlled by the Syrian government. However, thousands chose to go to the government-controlled areas out of fear of bombing and a lack of confidence in the opposition factions controlling their towns and villages outside Eastern Ghouta.

The activist Muhammad Hassan from Eastern Ghouta said that he preferred to stay and die in his city, Douma, rather than go to the government-controlled areas. Hassan told SMART that according to his view of the developments on the ground, the issue started in the towns of Hammouriya, Saqba, Kafr Batna and others, after the Syrian government advanced to the area and interrupted the contact between the al-Rahman Legion and civilians. Civilians lived in a state of confusion as they witnessed the advance of the Syrian government, leading to their loss of confidence in the al-Rahman Legion. The civilians feared that their hometowns would be bombed, and they were right. Even shelters were bombed, and ambulance teams were unable retrieve the dead bodies from the streets due to the constant bombing.

Hassan added that the Syrian government took advantage of the chaos that prevailed in the region, especially in the city of Hammouriya, where a young man raised the flag of the Syrian government after an officer in the Syrian government forces promised him that the bombing would stop and people would be allowed to leave. Civilians gradually encouraged each other to leave Ghouta. Many of them said, "The shelters are much better than dying by bombs from the Syrian government."

Despite the harsh conditions in the areas under attack, many families preferred to stay rather than go to the government-controlled areas, according to Hassan. Hassan also noted that many of the young men and women who went to the shelters regret it now. They wish they had waited and gone to Northern Syria instead, as part of the many displacement agreements with the opposition factions around Damascus.

The people from the opposition-held areas outside Damascus were all eventually displaced, and the capital and its surrounding areas now belong to the Syrian government.

الاخبار المتعلقة

اعداد أمنة رياض | تحرير أمنة رياض | ترجمة غلوري جابر | تحرير الترجمة Vera Halvorsen 🕔 تم النشر بتاريخ : 27 مايو، 2018 6:49:14 م تقرير موضوعي عسكريإغاثي وإنساني نزوح
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