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Statement by Organizations Operating in North and Northeast Syria Concerning the Fires that Affected the Forest Lands in the Syrian Coast

2020-10-15
Series of fires continue to affect large areas of forest lands in Lattakia and Tartous governorates and other areas in Syria. The fires have been raging through hundreds of hectares in those areas and have reached more than 80 locations; including 600 hectares in one location in Lattakia governorate. The Syrian regime's firefighting and emergency teams have managed to put out only 30 fires so far. Nevertheless, the main causes of these fires have not yet been determined and the causes of most of these fires are still unknown and are linked to the hot climate and eastern winds, according to the official Syrian media, despite the fact that the fires’ locations are not geographically contiguous.

The series of fires has caused thousands of families’ displacement from towns and villages to city centres in the Syrian coast, without shelter and government relief support or support from their loyal parties. This is also, in light of the continuing spread of Covid-19 pandemic in Syria and the government’s failure to work seriously in implementing preventive measures to limit the pandemic outbreak.

Forests of the administrative borders of Lattakia, the coastal governorate, constitute approximately 31% of Syria's forests. It is characterized by the richness and diversity of its trees and the multiplicity of lifestyles there, which gave it a unique beauty and elegance. Moreover, this is the second time within few months that the forests were ravaged by fires, while fires' causes are officially attributed to natural climatic reasons remarkably and suspiciously.

On 15-09-2020, the London newspaper Levant News, published a special file concerning the fires in the Syrian coast; pointing fingers at the officers and personalities of the Syrian regime and Russian parties for standing behind those fires in the Syrian forests. As the newspaper claims that they aim to prepare the residents to be displaced from the region and force them to obtain security cards if they wish to return.

During the past 2 days, an administrative official warned the Syrian regime government of a major humanitarian disaster, which may take place if the fire in the vicinity of Al-Hafah town is not extinguished. This is in light of having 150 tons of ammonium nitrate; an industrial chemical used as fertilizers and is used also as the main material in mining explosives. In fact, it is the same material that caused the great explosion in Beirut port on August 4, which left massive damage to the infrastructure and housing facilities in the Lebanese capital, Beirut.
The fires that target forests and summer crops in Syria have been weaponized in the ongoing Syrian war for the past 9 years and have become a reprehensible phenomenon that has been recurrent for years.

Therefore, as the organizations signatories to this statement, we hold the Syrian regime and its loyal militias and the local authorities on the Syrian coast, direct and full accountability for these fires. As we believe, are deliberate arson and are not a result of high heat, eastern winds, or due to climatic reasons as being promoted by the official Syrian authority. Hence, we declare our full solidarity with the affected Syrians in those areas and we urge the United Nations agencies and the international institutions concerned, to start practicing the duties entrusted to them and to operate urgently to stop such disgraceful acts. As well as, work to prevent their recurrence and hinder them in a manner that guarantees its desired malicious goals are not met and strive to remove all the fires' effects through an immediate and active response to the needs of those affected. Likewise, we reassure our call for the need to support the establishment of civil defense systems in all Syrian regions, in order to take the necessary measures and procedures to secure protection for Syrians and their private and public property in natural disasters resulting from the war and reduce losses to the minimum level.

Organizations Signatories to the statement:
1. ASO Center for Consultancy and Strategic Studies
2. ASHNA for Development
3. Aljazeera Development Organization
4. Ataa Al-baghooz Organization
5. Ataa for Relief and Development
6. Al Rajaa Association
7. Atyaf Association
8. Albaghouz Hope for Development Organization
9. Anwar Al-gad Organization
10. Basma Amal Al-Furat Organization
11. Balsam Center For Health Education
12. Better Tomorrow
13. Burka Ahlaa Association
14. DAN for Relief and Development
15. Dijlah Association for Environmental Protection
16. Eridu center for civil society and democracy
17. Emaar Al-Mansura Organization
18. Engineering for Services Organization
19. Ensaf for Development
20. Euphrates Relief and Development Organization
21. Ezdina Association
22. Field Response Team
23. Forum Two Rivers Organization
24. Future development Organization
25. Hajin Technicians Organization
26. Hevy for Relief and Development Organization
27. Hope Makers Organization
28. HDF Humanitarian Organization
29. Hlom Development Organization
30. Humanitarian Hope Team
31. Inaash Development Organization
32. Inmaa Al-fourt Organization
33. Jasmine Organization
34. Jan Center for People with Special Needs
35. Jomard Charity Association
36. Jinar For Aid and Development Association
37. Judi Charity for Development and Relief
38. Jian Charitable Society
39. Khunav association for Relief and Development
40. Kobani for Relief and Development
41. land of peace
42. Mitan Center to Revive Civil Society
43. Nabd Organization
44. Nour Jan Association
45. People for Human Development (PHD)
46. Prospects Peace Development Organization
47. Peace Horizons for Development Organization
48. Qanadil Al Amal Association
49. Roj Kar For Relief And Development
50. Sara organization to combat violence against women
51. Saeel Media and Development Organization
52. Soz association
53. Slav Center for Civic Activities
54. Shawishka Association for Women
55. Swaedna Organization for relief and Development
56. Sanabel Alfurat Organization
57. Shamal Charity association
58. Shams organization
59. Taa Marbouta Association
60. Tayif Organization
61. Traham Organization for Development and Giving
62. The Four Seasons Organization
63. The civil Cooperation Team Organization
64. Weqaya Organization
65. Youth for Change Organization

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