Little is known about the Sidd refugee camp in northeastern Syria, where an estimated 5000 displaced people from the ISIS-held Deir ez-Zor area are currently living. As Syria’s largest city in eastern Syria, it was once home to a significant Christian population. Today, it is the new frontline in the war in Syria and against ISIS. Displaced individuals in the Sidd camp say the camp’s filthiness has greatly contributed to the amount of illness present in the camp, and authorities are barring sick individuals from leaving for medical treatment. A lack of aid, particularly food supplies, have left many starving. Within refugee camps, Christians often face an even more difficult environment than their peers. Pray for those refugees who are forced to live in Sidd, and for the speedy healing of anyone who is ill but unable to receive treatment.
10/27/2017 Syria (Syria Direct) – Scores of displaced people are falling ill—and some dying—from preventable diseases such as tuberculosis and scabies in a Kurdish-run camp in northeastern Syria, doctors and activists told Syria Direct, as residents say they are barred by authorities from leaving the camp for treatment.
“Dozens” of people are suffering malnutrition, scabies, tuberculosis and other illnesses inside the Sidd displacement camp in rural southern Al-Hasakah province, Mohammad al-Khalif, a member of the monitoring group Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) told Syria Direct on Thursday. His organization, al-Khalif says, is documenting cases of illness and death within the camp via a network of contacts on the ground.
Exact numbers of the sick and dead are unavailable, he added, due to the difficulty of communicating with residents inside the camp.
What al-Khalif says he does know, however, is that most of the people impacted by the outbreaks are young children, whose weak immune systems cannot ward off the massive spread of bacteria amid unhygienic camp conditions. An unknown number of them have already died in recent weeks, after battling illnesses brought on by unclean food and drinking water, according to the limited information al-Khalif is able to gather from contacts inside the camp. Others simply died of malnutrition because of a lack of food supplies.
Little is definitively known about the Sidd camp, which sits within Kurdish territory in southern Hasakah province. The camp is under the authority of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a multi-ethnic yet majority-Kurdish coalition currently fighting a campaign to drive out the Islamic State from neighboring Deir e-Zor province to the immediate south.
The majority of Sidd’s estimated 5,000 residents are displaced families from rural, IS-held Deir e-Zor, and fled the ongoing battles there in recent weeks.
For them, Sidd is among the closest displacement camps to their hometowns and villages, and the first they come across as they flee north across the desert.
But in Sidd, they find a sense of relative safety, and little else.
Gathering reliable information from inside the camp is difficult. Residents and activists told Syria Direct in recent days of camp authorities “arresting” displaced people within Sidd suspected of sharing photos of camp conditions, or speaking to the media about their living situations.
The picture that does emerge, based on interviews with camp residents and activists with contacts inside Sidd, is of an underfunded camp without enough blankets, food, medicine and even bathrooms to service the thousands of displaced people living there—despite receiving indirect UN funding. Phone service and internet often cut off, for days at a time. Those who hope to move elsewhere, one resident told Syria Direct, must sign up for a waiting list, or find a sponsor within Kurdish territory.
“The situation in general here is garbage,” Abu Mu’ayyad, a displaced father inside the camp, told Syria Direct. He fled to Sidd with his family in recent weeks from their hometown of al-Qouriyah, which sits along the bank of the Euphrates River in eastern Deir e-Zor province.