Survivors struggle four years after battle of Raqqa

Children in Raqqa, northeast Syria, are still living among ruins, with limited water, electricity, and access to education, four years after the city was taken from ISIS, according to a new report by Save the Children. Thousands of people have returned to Raqqa since the battle for the city ended in 2017, and the report estimates that up tp 330,000 people are currently living there. But levels of rebuilding and rehabilitation of housing remain low, with children living in constant fear of their homes collapsing on top of them. Research estimates that 36% of the city's buildings remain entirely destroyed.

The report, 'I must live amidst the rubble': Inclusive recovery in Al Raqqa, found:

In four years there has been little rehabilitation of the city that at the peak of the bombing campaign faced 150 air-strikes a day, leaving children living in damaged homes and with nowhere to learn or play but among ruins;

Three quarters of Raqqa's population are reliant on support to buy food and other basic goods and services;

80% of the city's schools are still damaged, as the conflict and its aftermath have decimated the entire education sector;

The worst drought in nine years in northeast Syria has led to a lack of access to clean water for families in Raqqa, creating a public health crisis with a reported increase in waterborne diseases and challenges in preventing the spread of COVID-19.

Sonia Khush, Syria response director for Save the Children, said: "Four years on from the intensity of the battle in Al Raqqa, children and their families live in and navigate rubble, damage and risk every day, much of it caused by airstrikes by the Coalition to Defeat ISIS. The Coalition's members include some of the largest donors to Syria's humanitarian response. They bear responsibility to subsequently address the consequences of their military action. Needs-based humanitarian assistance, independent of military and security objectives, is urgently needed." (Save the Children)

See our last post on the long aftermath of the liberation of Raqqa.