IDPs in Syria’s Manbij fear cholera outbreak in camps

MANBIJ, Syria (North Press) – Hassan al-Abed started to question about the source of drinking water that reaches the camp where he lives east of Manbij, north Syria, after cholera outbreak along banks of the Euphrates River.

The 65-year-old al-Abed, a resident from old Rasm al-Akhdar camp seven kilometers east of Manbij, says that the camp’s residents suffer due to disinfected water, as it causes diseases for children and elderly.

IDPs in the camp fear that cholera spreads in the camp due to the use of the contaminated water, thus they demand that it must be sterilized.

Along the Euphrates banks, cholera started to spread among residents after the receding river’s water, as it turned into a swamp.

For months, Turkey has been declining the flow of the Euphrates River water towards the Syrian territories which led to living crises and popular discontent in the areas that depend on the river for drinking and irrigation.

The Turkish state continues to cut off the water of the Euphrates River by blocking water in several dams established along the river course within its territories.

By doing this, Turkey deprives northeastern Syria of its share of water violating the international agreement they signed with Syria in 1987 which stated that Syria’s share of water coming from Turkey is 500 m³ per second.

In addition, many parties warned that the rivers water is non-potable.

On September 21, in a press conference, Health Board of the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES) revealed that 2.867 suspected cases, 78 confirmed ones and 16 deaths of cholera in northeast Syria have been recorded up to date.

“We want disinfected water,” al-Abed told North Press.

The camp should be provided with healthy and disinfected water, he added.

“We are afraid of spreading cholera as happened last year (coronavirus),” the IDP noted.

The 52-year-old Hussein al-Abid is also afraid of the source from which IDPs obtain water and demands that drinking water must be renewed on a daily bases in order to limit the spread of bacteria, cholera and communicable water in the camp.

He complained about bad economic conditions and bad services that most of IDPs witness in the camp.

As cholera cases were recorded in the governorates of Deir ez-Zor, eastern Syria, and Raqqa, northern Syria, the AANES Health Board stressed the necessity of desalinate drinking water and washing vegetables properly.

On September 15, Environmental Affairs Bureau of Raqqa Civil Council, affiliated with the AANES, warned locals against the direct use of the Euphrates water, saying it is contaminated with germs and bacteria.

The warning came amid rapid increase in the cholera cases recently recorded in northeast Syria.  

34-year-old Maryam al-Ahmad, resident of Rasm Al-Akhdar camp, demanded that the camp must be provided with cleaners and that tanks must be cleaned.

“Diseases are increasing and people are transporting their children to hospitals every day, as some of them suffer from dehydration and cholera,” al-Ahmad added.

She called on “concerned authorities to help us and send us detergents…For over six months, we have not obtained detergents, leading to scabies and lice.”

“All places here got dirty,” she added.

Maryam said that the IDPs in the camp cannot afford detergents due to bad economic conditions.

In turn, Amal Muhammad, a member of the clinic management of the camp, said that they received poisoning cases that happened due to drinking contaminated water.

“Everything that children, adults and old people are using is contaminated,” she added.

“When we suspected some cases, we referred them to Euphrates Hospital,” she noted.

Reporting by Fadi al-Hussein