Syria - At least 3,900 families are believed to have fled escalating violence in the Syrian governorates of Homs and Hama, following the fall of the town of Al Qaryateen to ISIL insurgents. Al Qaryateen, in Homs governorate, is strategically located at a crossroads between northern and southern parts of Syria.
On August 19th, IOM delivered non-food relief items to 400 vulnerable al Qaryateen families sheltering in the villages of Al Furuglus, Al Manzoul, Al Harrat, Muheen, Saddad and Homs city. Most are staying with host communities or in rented houses. The aid included 279 house-cleaning kits, 400 hygiene kits and 100 adult diapers.
During the Homs distribution, fighting in and around the town of Sahl Al Ghab in Hama governorate also escalated, leading to the displacement of another 2,500 families (10,953 people). Between August 17-19, IOM distributed 1,000 house cleaning kits, 1,500 hygiene kits and 150 baby diapers to the most vulnerable
At the same time another 1,030 families fled from Joureen, near Sahl Al Ghab, to Latakia, Idleb governorate, where an IOM field team later provided them with 1,036 plastic mats, 1,036 clothing kits, 147 adult diapers and 326 baby diapers on August 19th and August 20th.
“I need a pack of baby diapers and a can of milk every three days,” said former Joureen resident Samar. “We left our houses without anything when the bombardment started. We left our belongings and cannot afford to buy anything to meet our basic needs,” she added, after receiving a hygiene kit and baby diapers from IOM.
“The response to the sudden displacement in Homs and Hama was no easy task,” explained IOM field coordinator Ramez Kabak. “The roads that lead to these hard-to-reach areas are really dangerous. It is becoming more and more difficult for us to transport items or reach people in need. But, in coordination with our partners, we are still managing to provide assistance to displaced families,” he added.
In the coming days, IOM is planning to expand its operations to more hard-to-reach areas, targeting 600 vulnerable displaced families in Muheen and Hawareen villages in Homs governorate.
IOM’s current response to the displacement in Hama and Homs is being supported by the European Commission Humanitarian Aid & Civil Protection Department (ECHO).
Meanwhile, on August 30th, IOM opened a new Public Health Care Centre (PHC) in Homs’ Al Shammas neighbourhood to provide primary healthcare services, including maternal and child care, to displaced and host community families.
IOM is expected to open four PHCs in the upcoming months – two in Rural Damascus and two in Aleppo – one of which will be in a cross-line area. The project will be funded by the UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF).
In coordination with other humanitarian partners on the ground, IOM will continue to provide vulnerable families with essential relief items. As the fighting in Homs and Hama continues, more displacement is likely and more funding will be needed.