Tents become Classrooms in North Aleppo After Earthquake

ALEPPO, Syria (North Press) – Dozens of tents were set up as classrooms in the northern countryside of Aleppo, northern Syria, by the Education Board of the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES) after schools were damaged by the Feb. 6 earthquake.

The earthquake and frequent aftershocks have so far damaged 25 schools in AANES-held areas in northern countryside of Aleppo, of which ten are completely destroyed.

At dawn on Feb. 6, a 7.8-magnitude earthquake hit Syria and Turkey, killing thousands and injuring much more. The earthquake also caused immense destruction of buildings, trapping thousands under the rubble.

Zaloukh Baker, the administrator of the Committee of Education, said they set up 56 tents for classrooms as an alternative for the damaged schools, stressing that one hundred tents are needed to accommodate 15 thousand students.

The northern countryside of Aleppo governorate, also known as Shahba region, houses IDPs of the Kurdish region of Afrin, which was occupied by Turkey in 2018.

Turkish operation “Olive Branch” caused the displacement of about 300.000 original Kurdish inhabitants of Afrin, who sheltered in some 40 villages and five camps in the Shahba region.

The Education Board equipped the tents with all needed supplies to resume schooling, according to Baker.

The official said they would commence schooling once they have enough tents to hold all students.

She highlighted the possibility of receiving students in partially damaged schools until all tents required are secured.

Currently, it is very difficult to do maintenance work in schools as raw materials are not available due to the siege imposed by the government on the region, she noted.

Over six months, the Syrian government has been imposing a stifling siege on AANES-held areas in Ashrafiyeh and Sheikh Maqsoud neighborhoods in Aleppo and its northern countryside, preventing basic living items from passing.

Both Kurdish-majority Sheikh Maqsoud and Ashrafiyeh neighborhoods, northern Aleppo, are semi-autonomous and run by a civil administration.

The two neighborhoods, in addition to the IDPs camps and villages in the northern countryside of Aleppo are housing the IDPs of Afrin who fled the violations and the invasion of the Turkish army and the Turkish-backed armed opposition factions since their control of Afrin in 2018.

The two neighborhoods of Sheikh Maqsoud and Ashrafiyeh have become a safe haven for many people from both inside and outside the city of Aleppo. This has led to the activation of trade and industrial movement, but the Syrian government besieges them frequently.

Also, both Sheikh Maqsoud and Ashrafiyeh enjoy security and stability better than that of the other neighborhoods in Aleppo, which made them to be a target of the armed opposition factions several times.

The neighborhoods are separated from the other neighborhoods in Aleppo by three government security checkpoints; Ashrafiyeh, Awared, and Maghsalat al-Jazira.

In a previous statement, the Education Committee in northern Aleppo estimated that 60 million Syrian Pounds ($7.500) are required to cover the cost of maintenance for all schools.

The committee has not scheduled a date for the resumption of schooling so far.

Reporting by Shiyar Ismael