Amidst the tragic reality of residents in Washokani camp within the Hasaka countryside, there is a widespread prevalence of diseases.

Iman Mahmoud, a mother of three kids living in the Washokani camp near the city of Hasakah in Northeastern Syria, says that she visits the clinic inside the camp on a daily basis. Since the onset of winter, the intensification of the cold, and the spread of diseases, her children are more vulnerable and less resistant to these conditions.

Iman is displaced from the countryside of Ras al-Ain/Serê Kaniyê after Turkey and its affiliated factions invaded the city in 2019. She lives with her family in the camp and explained to Target Media Platform that despite her repeated visits to the medical point of the Kurdish Red Crescent in the camp, their health has not improved. Despite the medicine and the doctor’s instructions, their living environment in their tents and the camp is unsuitable for recovering from diseases, amid the cold and the lack of heating.

Iman explains that they are caught between the dangerous cold, and the fear of keeping the heater on inside the tent at night while they are sleeping because of the fire risk. The tent material flammable, and the lack of oxygen and smell of fuel can lead to suffocation and respiratory diseases. Meanwhile, she added in her local dialect, “We are living a life where no one cares about us.”

The Washokani camp, located 13 km north-west of Hasakah, shelters about 12,000 people in more than 1,700 tents, all of whom are displaced from the city of Ras al-Ain / Serekaniye and its countryside, after the Turkish and its backed factions invasion on the 20th of October 2019. However, the camp lacks the most basic necessities of life and enough assistance from humanitarian and relief organizations. They depend on the assistance provided by the Autonomous Administration within the limits of its capabilities, and the medical services provided by the Kurdish Red Crescent.

Enduring repeated hardships every winter

Ezzedin Darbo, a displaced person from the village of Rajlat al-Hamra in Ras al-Ain/Serê Kaniyê, said that in the camp they suffer with every winter season and rainfall, in terms of the difficulty of draining the water that invades their tents. Given that the camp is located at the end of a slope, what follows is the frequent flooding of tents on cold winter nights.

Darbo explained, in an interview to Target Media Platform, that children are exposed to diseases frequently due to the bitter cold, the worn out of tents, and the frequent rainwater leaks. He added that they cannot keep the heater on during the night for fear of fires, stressing that “we are also forced to buy medicines outside of the camp, with significant rises in prices.”

Relief organizations documented hundreds of poisoning cases in the Washokani camp during the summer of 2021. The Kurdish Red Crescent clinics confirmed at that time they received between 15 and 20 cases per day. They attributed the spread of these cases to the significant rise in temperatures and reliance on contaminated water unfit for human use. They added that most of the water tanks in the camp are without lids and are prone to filling with dirt and pollutants, in addition to the dependence of some on non-potable water. Turkey and its factions are also responsible for cutting off the Alouk water station in the countryside of Ras al-Ain/Serê Kaniyê, which supplies the city of Hasakah and its countryside with drinking water.

Samia al-Mahmeed, a displaced woman from Ras al-Ain/Serê Kaniyê, spoke to the Target Media Platform about the suffering they endure in the camp in the summer due to high temperatures, lack of water, power cuts, the subsequent diseases (mostly digestive and poisoning) as well as in winter due to extreme cold and insufficient heating means.

She said “when one of my children gets sick, the rest get sick as well, because we are in the same tent alone with the smell of diesel,” she added that they suffer from the high prices of medicines, that they are forced to buy it outside of the camp, because it is not available in the Kurdish Red Crescent clinics.

On 5th October 2023, humanitarian and relief organizations announced the temporary suspension of their relief programs in the Washokani camp, in protest against the exposure of the camp’s surroundings to drone bombardment by the Turkish state, and condemned any targeting of civilians and camps for displaced people, as well as displaced people in the region.

Different medical conditions

The head of the Kurdish Red Crescent in the Washokani camp, Khonaf Ahmed, spoke to our platform about the medical and health conditions. She confirmed that most of the patients who visit the Crescent clinics are children, and that they often suffer from septic diseases, asthma, colds, and chest infections, as the camp environment is not conducive to recovering from these diseases due to the spread of pollutants and extreme cold.

Ahmed said that most of the tents are worn out and have not been changed since the establishment of the camp in late 2019, stressing that the camp does not have the appropriate means of prevention, so cases of infection are spread, as between 150 to 200 patients visit the medical clinics of the Kurdish Red Crescent every day. She pointed out that the people lack the implementation of treatment plans and so cannot adhere to them as required.

Officials of the Democratic Autonomous Administration of the North and East of Syria Region say that since the establishment of the camp in November 2019, the Administration has made concerted efforts to provide the camp with essential supplies and services. They established a school for primary education, and the camp administration was organized. Meanwhile, Kurdish Red Crescent teams are deployed in camp to provide medical services, due to the failure of international relief organizations and their limited assistance.




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