COVID-19 isn’t the only worry on the minds of those inside the camp.
Amid unabated and unrelenting warfare, unexploded explosive ordnance (UXO) is another source of anxiety.
UXOs come in various forms such as improvised landmines, booby-traps, and other explosive devices. Its presence is rife throughout Syria
, generating tens of incidents a month and leaving hundreds of victims in its wake. Since 2011, and at the time of writing, UXO has claimed 900 fatalities in northeast Syria alone.
One of the students had loved ones taken by such explosive ordnance.
“My cousin was killed by a mine explosion when he went to buy supplies for the house,” the student wistfully reminisces. He further adds, with a hesitant smile: “I’m afraid.”
Ayman, who hosts us for tea in his dome-shaped tent, had prior experience with an UXO and was aware of its dangers and risks.
“After the battles with ISIS, the area was contaminated with UXOs,” Ayman recalls. “One friend lost a leg, but I have since lost touch with him and don’t know how he is doing”. iMMAP is the Humanitarian Mine Action (HMA) coordinator in NES, collecting data about these contaminated areas and coordinating the clearing activities of various HMA organizations.
Thanks to these activities, the threat of UXOs seems to have quelled and appears faint, at least inside the camp.
“UXOs are not a big issue around here any more,” a teacher asserted. “People consider the area safe, since all UXO have been removed.”