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Photography - Issue #8

Dust, Rain and War

Words and photographs by Fadi Al-Shami

Syrian photographer Fadi Al-Shami has been documenting events in Syria since 2013. Most recently, he has focused his lens on the Idlib governate, a region to the north-west of the country that is caught between the opposition forces that control the area and the advance of government forces backed by Russia and Iran, as hundreds of thousands of people are being forced from their homes by the ensuing violence, many of them ending up in makeshift camps in the countryside.

An air strike targetted the Jabal Al-Zawiya area in the Idlib governorate.

Since the Syrian war began in 2011, over 5.5 million Syrians are living as refugees in neighbouring countries, while 6.7 million people, including an estimated 2.5 million children, are displaced inside the country, according to UN figures. These numbers were aggravated in September 2015, when Russian warplanes intervened on the side of the Syrian regime.

The UN reports that 1.8 million of those internally displaced people are living in camps and informal settlements. And while those who remained in their cities and villages are in danger of death as a result of bombing or clashes, those who fled with their lives to the camps struggle to survive, finding it difficult to obtain their basic needs.

The informal settlements, often set up on agricultural land, suffer from high temperatures during the summer, accompanied by a proliferation of dangerous reptiles such as poisonous snakes and scorpions. The extreme temperature inside the canvas tents during summer causes sunstroke, fever, and water intoxication.

In winter, their suffering gets worse with heavy rains that turn dust into mud, and floods sweep away their tents and drown their clothes and belongings. This has been the case every winter since 2013 for those living in informal settlements in the rural areas of Idlib and Aleppo governorates in northwestern Syria.

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