ROADS ARE LIFELINES FOR CAMPS
Villages need paved, serviced roads to connect to neighboring cities and disruptions to those roads have negative consequences for village residents. Across Syria, the roads in and around villages and camps are in dire need of rehabilitation after years of wartime neglect and destruction. A considerable number of the camps housing Displaced Persons do not even have paved, transportable roads.
To facilitate the movement of people and alleviate the burdens they face, BINAA teams have led an initiative to rehabilitate and pave the roads linking the camps to neighboring towns and cities.
Engineer Zakaria Al-Badrli, a supervisor on the BINAA road rehabilitation project in the Idlib countryside, spoke to us about the project. He said, “Twenty-one roads will be rehabilitated – the road we are standing on now is one of them.” This road, a bumpy mountain road, serves the village of Sheikh Bahr and the camps around it. Zakaria added that it “was one of the worst roads that the project repaired.”
Residents of the area confirm this. Ahmed M., a farmer from the town of Sheikh Bahr, said “We had agricultural lands on the same road, and we could not reach them before. The road was full of potholes. Even ambulances were having difficulties transporting patients.”
The area also suffered from a lack of water, and water tanks had difficulty gaining access due to the road conditions. But following the intervention of the BINAA Foundation, Ahmed can now reach his land easily. “After the paving work, the road is wide enough for two cars, and water tanks can easily reach the camps,” he says. “The road brought life back to this area... and served us a lot.”
Engineer Yasser Abboud, leader of the BINAA road rehabilitation team in the Ma’arrat Misrin district in Idlib countryside, described two crucial elements of the project. He said, “The road rehabilitation works start with the (rehabilitation and training of the workers themselves) … The workers are part of BINAA’s cash-for-work program.”
Yasser noted that the training and qualification of workers include “occupational safety and the basics of road rehabilitation”, in addition to trainings related to parallel activities such as “planting trees, installing traffic signs, cleaning rain canals, and painting road lines.” Due to the outbreak of Covid-19, the lectures also included information on the “factors leading to infection, symptoms of the disease, and prevention, in addition to the necessary precautions in the workplace.”
As we were concluding our tour of the area, we came across a young man, Faisal, a resident of the area. He was riding his motorcycle on the road between the Bunyan camps and the city of Ma’arrat Misrin. We asked him about how he benefitted from the road rehabilitation project, and he immediately responded. “There are absolutely no negative sides to this issue at all... It is all positive.” He pointed out that “even people with special needs can now use their motorcycles, move around and be able to manage their needs.”
The vital importance of these types of projects and the impact on large groups of people are what drive the BINAA teams – the teams are determined to continue the work, complete existing projects, and launch new ones in an effort to address more of the needs of Displaced Persons and residents in various regions, and contribute to alleviating their daily burdens.