Syria’s less fortunate take refuge in public parks after earthquakes

Displaced people are seen outside temporary tents in Aleppo, Syria, on Feb. 15, 2023. When the massive earthquakes rocked Syria's northern city of Aleppo on Feb. 6, many people became homeless once again. (Photo by Hummam Sheikh Ali/Xinhua)

When the massive earthquakes rocked Syria’s northern city of Aleppo on Feb. 6, many people became homeless once again.

Many are forced to find new residences for their families. The rich could choose to go to hotels or rent a home in safe areas, while the less fortunate have to take refuge in school-turned-shelters, or even temporary tents in public parks.

At al-Shahba public park in the Bustan al-Qasr area, 24 tents were set up, housing around 149 people. Some of the tents host more than 10 people.

On a sunny Wednesday afternoon after the quake, Xinhua visited the park. While the kids were playing outside the tents after days of unmerciful cold weather, their families seemed far too tired, both mentally and physically. Sadness and weariness were evident.

Everybody was coughing, possibly from exposure to extremely low temperatures, particularly in Aleppo, which is famous for its freezing weather in winter.

Ahmad Wannous, a displaced man, fled his home following the earthquake and took refuge in the park. His son, wife, and an extended family of 10 live in one tent.

Speaking to Xinhua, Wannous said what happened was like a nightmare he couldn’t believe.

“When they woke me up, I didn’t know it was real. I carried my son and ran down the street while the rocks from surrounding buildings were falling. It was like a nightmare,” Wannous recounted.

The man said the war didn’t cause the damage the earthquake had done.

“For us, the war was much easier than the earthquake. When trouble reached our home during the war, we went to another neighborhood, or elsewhere, but this earthquake was inescapable,” he said.

Wannous was lucky as his building was still standing, but he still can’t go back until he got permission from the safety teams.

He said his situation is “tough” for everyone in Aleppo.

On Sunday, the Ministry of Local Administration and Environment said a total of 275 shelters had been opened across Syria, hosting victims of the earthquake.

The ministry said 235 shelters were in the northern Aleppo province, 32 in the northwestern province of Latakia, five in Hama province, and two in Tartous province.

The Syrian Health Ministry announced on Tuesday that the final death toll from the earthquake in Syria stood at 1,414, while the number of injured reached 2,357.

Meanwhile, the latest statistics from the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights showed that the quake killed about 7,000 people in Syria’s government-controlled and rebel-held areas. ■

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