The Al Jameaya camp is located in the city of Salqin in the north Idlib countryside.
More than 100 families live in this camp after being displaced from the Hama countryside after the Assad regime forcibly took control of the area, obliging residents to leave their homes and take refuge in this makeshift camp.
The area of this camp is so tenuous, the ground is so mushy and unstable, that seasonal weather changes like rain, snow or windstorms result in creating severe hardships and difficult living conditions for families who have no options for seeking refuge from their place of refuge, especially during the heavy snowfall, dense fog and extreme cold they are being subjected to this winter.
Even before winter arrived, the displaced people of this camp had grown used to struggling every day due to the bad conditions of the roads, lack of gas cylinders and shortage of water. Most of the time they lack even the basic supplies necessary just to survive.
As for plumbing and sanitation, that’s another story. There are three to four working toilets located in the middle of the camp that are shared by the hundreds of family members who live there. To make matters worse, sewage that flows out of them often overflows into the camp since there is only one drainage outlet connected to all of them.
A number of the camp’s residents were previously detained by the Assad regime and then released after being tortured and severely traumatized. Their stories are tragic and have left many of them consumed with grief. Many unknown diseases are spread all over the camp and no one is capable of diagnosing the reasons .
Unemployment is a huge problem for residents of the camp because there are no places or choices for the people to go and look for work. Their only income is the help presented through some relatives, neighbors or the occasional aid organization which is barely enough to be able to survive.
The currency used in the camp is the Turkish lira and one’s income in the best conditions won’t exceed 20 Turkish liras (about $2 USD) and with this amount a person can buy two small packs of bread, one kg of tomatoes and one kg of potatoes.
People are really living in very hard circumstances. Some of them work in olive groves or road construction but those jobs are most likely seasonal. No medical services or education for the kids and no fireplaces or stoves for cooking or heating their makeshift homes.
Even if one is fortunate enough to find a job it takes ten days of working to earn enough to buy one small gas cylinder. Many cannot afford that and have become accustomed to eating cold food. Firewood is the only option for people to make hot food. They are always on the lookout for olive branches to burn for cooking.
Although there are some civil organizations that help, the needs are overwhelming and it is impossible to keep up with the never ending shortage of supplies.
As miserable as their lives have become, the residents of Al Jameaya Camp are appreciative and thankful for everyone helping their camp to persevere even though conditions continue to worsen day after day, especially in these difficult days of winter.
All photos are of Al Jameaya Camp in Salqin in northwestern Syria during a snow storm on Jan. 23, 2022; credit: Fared Al Mahloul