► Nahlaya (Idlib province) has been on the front line for months and has been deeply affected by the war.
► The majority of Nahlaya village – 5,000 people - was displaced for 10 to 15 months and is gradually returning to the village. The village is accommodating internally displaced families from Aleppo.
► More than 60 % of its population has returned home but up to 50 % of the village buildings have been affected and show different levels of destruction.
► All houses and public buildings have been looted; furniture, doors, windows, electricity and telephone wires, and water tanks were stolen during the conflict.
► Community infrastructure - water, sewage, road access - have been severely impacted.
Months of complete
Nahlaya village has suffered from numerous military actions due to its strategic location close to al-Mastumah camp and being on the front line between Idleb and Ariha.
Al-Mastumah camp was the largest Syrian army camp under the Syrian regime control until early 2015. The camp was disputed for months, and the area had numerous airstrikes. Heavy weapons and artillery were used in the battle for control of the camp, indirectly affecting the village which suffered from side bombings until the camp fell under the control of the Free Syrian Army (FSA).
In April 2015, Nahlaya was again on the frontline for the battle of Ariha city, one of the last cities in Idleb province, and still under the control of the regime. The village was again targeted several times and suffered from heavy destructions of its residential buildings and infrastructure. At that time, most of its inhabitants had left their homes for more secure places.
The majority of its population has been displaced for 10 to 15 months and is gradually returning. After May 2015 and the fall of Ariha, only a few family members returned to Nahlaya, mainly to check their properties and assets, but in February 2016, with the ceasefire between the regime (GoS) and the FSA, families started to go back. In recent months, even displaced families from Aleppo have found temporary shelter in the village.
Out of 1,000 houses, over 50 % have been partially damaged, many severely damaged, a few buildings totally destroyed and 50 houses completely burned to the ground. The majority of the buildings are used by families with even the severely damaged ones as shelters; many families have already started some basic self-rehabilitation and repair works. When they were asked about the reasons for deciding to return to their village, the main answers were improved security and the presence of family members as important factors for them; some also mentioned access to their lands and livelihoods, but the repair of their home was mentioned as their first priority over income and service access.
► Infrastructures: there are eight main streets in the village, in addition to small streets linking it to other villages around; roads need basic maintenance due to shell holes, as there are some roads requiring paving and rubble removal. In the middle of a main road, a burned war tank needs to be dragged away.
► Public buildings: schools are damaged due to the conflict but are used as a place where kids go to spend time and have some basic education.
► Water and Sanitation: used to be pumped from Al-Mastumah pumps, piped into a tank inside Nhalia and ultimately into the houses, but the pumping from Al-Mastumah was stopped due to generator damage and lack of fuel for the pumping; communities cleaned the village water reservoir and set up a water point filled by water trucks, but 2,000 litres of water trucking which used to cost 1,000 SYP has gone up to 4,000 SYP; a 300 meters depth borehole drilling process was started and then stopped also due to lack of village council resources. Four neighbourhoods are totally disconnected from the main sewage network (no existence of infrastructure). Families use individual private substandard sanitation facilities (toilets, showers).
► Tenure and property: The village council and the municipality of the village are very well known and trusted among the community with previous experience of working with NGOs and humanitarian actors. All the village’s plans and docs have been destroyed (water/sanitation networks and neighborhood plans). Nevertheless, the village council remains responsible for public buildings and facilities. Private property ownership and documents remain with families without any authority of the village council.