Scabies prevails shelters housing quake-impacted people in NW Syria

IDLIB, Syria (North Press) – Suzan recaps her plight in a shelter for people affected by the quake in northwest Syria, cleanness and showers are absent in the shelters, leading to the spread of scabies. 

Suzan Ali, a pseudonym of a women affected by the earthquake, had her family’s house destroyed in the city of Salqin and she was forced to head to the shelters that are run by the Salvation Government, the civil wing of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS, formerly al-Nusra Front), in Idlib, northwest Syria.

Suzan has been in the shelter for more than 15 days, since then her children and she have not been able to have a shower.”

“Only drinking water is available,” she said.

However, what is really astonishing is that “only the families of HTS militants who reside in the shelter are allowed to have shower twice a week,” she noted.

Ali indicated that although scabies is widespread in the shelter and many appeals and calls have been made to the official who is in charge of it and to HTS’ Development Office, “We have received no reply.” 

The HTS uses the office that dominates the shelters as a trade chance, as it has been polarizing a number of NGOs and supporting bodies without providing health care and basic necessities for the impacted people who reside in those shelters.

At dawn on Feb. 6, a 7.8-magnitude earthquake hit northwestern Syria and southern Turkey, killing about 50.000 individuals and injuring much more. The earthquake also caused immense destruction of buildings, trapping thousands under the rubble.

Spread of disease

The HTS installed tents in the stadium of the city and they house more than 1.000 families affected by the quake and they lack basic needs.

Amid such a gloomy reality scabies has found its way into the shelters, that the vast majority of its occupants are women and children, according to a local source.

Omar Mansour, 37, a pseudonym of an affected man from the city of Atarib, in the western countryside of Aleppo, and live in one of the shelters, said that he stayed only two days in the shelter because scabies began to spread there “amid intended negligence from the part of competent bodies over cleanness and hygiene issues though notifications on the disease were made.”

Mansur told North Press, “I prefer to sleep and spend time on streets and in gardens to shelters,” which has been turned into a trade center for the HTS that has invested in peoples’ agonies and damages.”

A number of cities and towns in northwest Syria run by the HTS incurred damages, including Atarib, Salqin, Azmarin and Harem.

Deaths rising

An official in the Salvation Government’s Health Ministry, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said “Sacbies has been widely spread.”

“More than 36 cases have been recorded over the past four days, mostly children.”

The official voiced his fears over the overcrowded shelters, as cases may increase.

Reporting by Hani Salem