The Forgotten Camp: The Tragedy of Displaced People in Sahl Al Banat, Eastern Raqqa

In the heart of the tumult echoed by conflicts and the explosions of wars, the presence of the displaced emerges as a clear and sorrowful message. They are forced to leave their homes and original dwellings in search of a spot of safety that guarantees them a bit of tranquility and a dignified life. In this context, the eastern region of Raqqa in Syria stands out as an area that has witnessed one of the harshest storms resulting from wars and conflicts, casting its dark shadows upon its inhabitants, especially women and children.

This tragedy is vividly manifested in around 53 makeshift camps in the countryside of Raqqa, hosting weary bodies filled with approximately 85,000 souls, the majority of whom are women and children who have become hostages to the harsh living conditions and the absence of the most basic elements of a dignified life. Amidst this despair and hopelessness, these displaced individuals suffer from a complete absence of appropriate humanitarian intervention by the self-administration affiliated with the SDF militia, and from the lack of attention from humanitarian and service organizations operating in the region.

Among those forgotten camps is the “Sahl Al Banat” camp located east of Raqqa, 7 kilometers away, serving as a shelter for about 6,000 displaced people from the eastern countryside of Deir ez-Zor. They are prevented by the SDF from returning to their homes under the pretext of security concerns regarding the return of ISIS to the area. Additionally, the Asayish forces, affiliated with the SDF, prevent them from moving to live within Raqqa city for security reasons, amidst ongoing raids and arrests targeting the camp residents, and the absence of any humanitarian aid therein. Its inhabitants, including women and girls, work in the random garbage dump, collecting plastic, iron, and empty containers, as well as gathering vegetables and food leftovers for consumption and sale.

The risks of injustice and exploitation intensify with the presence of women and girls in this deteriorating environment, increasing the chances of exposure to various forms of assault, harassment, sexual exploitation, and even human trafficking. International organizations warn that the absence of protection services and weak oversight renders these individuals increasingly vulnerable to danger.

It becomes a humanitarian duty that cannot be ignored to address the difficult situation experienced by the displaced in the “Sahl Al Banat” camp and other areas in eastern Raqqa. The international community must act swiftly to provide aid and support to these people, especially to women and girls facing serious threats to their lives and dignity. The international community should exert strong pressure to secure safe protection and resettlement for the displaced, in addition to providing job opportunities and education for them.