Efforts to Improve Services in Jarablus’ “Zogra Camp”… But Has the Moment Passed?

Translated by: Sailer Perkins

The wheel of reform has begun to turn in the Zogra Displaced Persons Camp in the city of Jarablus, in the eastern Aleppo countryside, with the opening of its first elementary school last Tuesday. In a similar development, a medical center opened in the camp on July 7.

The Office of Education under the local council of Jarablus opened an elementary education school for approximately 1100 students in the Zogra Camp. The opening was accompanied by the distribution of stationary and textbooks to the beneficiary students, according to Abd al-Latif Mohammad, a member of the Office of Education, in comments to The Syrian Voice.

Twenty-three administrators and teachers from the camp will oversee the educational practices of the recently-opened school. Each of them earn a monthly wage of 500 Turkish Lira, in line with other teacher salaries in the city of Jarablus. The Turkish government has assumed the responsibility for paying the teacher’s wages, according to Mr. Mohammad.

The school follows the curriculum set out by the “interim” Syrian government’s “Free” Ministry for Education, which is also used by the schools of Jarablus city and its surrounding countryside.

Mr. Mohammad vowed that a middle and high school will open in the camp shortly, in addition to the founding of others in and around Jarablus. These areas, like the Zogra Camp, lack support for the education sector.

In related news, the Stabilization Committee of the “Free” Aleppo Province opened a medical outpost in the same notorious Zogra Camp, following the months-long suffering of the camp’s refugees from a lack of public services, especially health services.

In a previous statement obtained by “The Syrian Voice,” Doctor Abdullah, director of the Stabilization Committee’s medical office, said that “the medical post is a mobile one, equipped with modern medical devices and has three specializations: women’s health, pediatrics, and internal medicine.”

The improvement of services in the camp and the establishment of public health and education facilities are intended to lessen the suffering of migrants to the camp, although these developments have arrived quite late in the story. The deterioration of services in the camp prompted a number of migrants originally from the Homs neighborhood of al-Waer to leave the camp and return to the city.

Following a compromise with the Syrian regime, buses dispatched from the Zogra Camp, which lies under the Syrian opposition’s control, and carried families back to Homs.

Hasan Abd al-Baqi, a resident of the Zogra Camp from Homs, said to a correspondent for “The Syrian Voice” that “the service aid and projects launched in the Zogra Camp have relieved the residents’ suffering after a number of difficult months, although they have come late, and furthermore do not address all of the needs of the people here.”

Abd al-Baqi said, “a lot of families abandoned the camp and returned to the Al-Waer neighborhood, from which they had fled before,” indicating that “the camp records individual return cases for those families that did not go as a group and were not reported on in the media.”

Commenting on the services, Abd al-Baqi said that “[those] provided are still limited, as the medical center that was set up still needs more equipment, particularly a pharmacy and free medicines.”

According to Abd al-Baqi, “there are other services that the people of the camp need that have not been provided. They need improved sanitation, and the establishment of a sewer system.” He pointed out that “open pits are used as toilets, which has resulted in health issues and created a hotbed for epidemics and diseases, especially in the summer.”

The city of Jarablus and its surrounding countryside have recorded tens of cases of poisoning in children, most of them in the camps, as a result of increasing temperatures and the usage of unclean water.

The Zogra Camp was established in the middle of last March and currently has ten thousand residents, most of them from the Homs neighborhood of al-Waer.

The camp was set up to receive internally displaced migrants after the opposition in al-Waer struck a deal with the regime through Russian mediation. The agreement ruled that those wanting to leave the neighborhood could do so, while those wanting to stay would have their conditions in the city improved.


حسين الخطاب

مراسل صحفي في ريف حلب، درس في جامعة بيروت العربية، وعاد إلى سوريا مع اندلاع الثورة السورية لينخرط في النشاط الإعلامي، عمل كمراسل ومصور مستقل في سوريا.

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