The Idlib City Council is responsible for providing services in the city of Idlib, which is the capital of Idlib province and is currently under insurgent control. To learn more about the services situation in the city and the efforts of the city council, I interviewed on 30 September 2019 Mahmoud Ayad, who is an engineer by training and deputy head of the city council.
Any parenthetical insertions in square brackets are my own.
Q: What is the number of inhabitants in Idlib city currently?
A: The surveys that are with us: currently around 400,000 inhabitants. And the number is noticeably growing daily.
Q: What is the number of IDPs in the city?
A: Until now I do not have comprehensive surveys. But a very big number of displaced people.
Q:How is the services and humanitarian situation generally in the city?
A: Currently we are serving the locality in its entirety from electricity, water, sewage and connections.
Q: How is the electricity for example and from where it comes?
A: The electricity is through big generators distributed in the form of sectors. And electricity reaches the whole town from the seventh hour until the tenth and a half hour [NB: these are hours in the evening], and the prices are symbolic: for every ampere of electricity, 1500 Syrian pounds.
Q: The generators are private or affiliated with the council?
A: There are private and some of them belong to us.
Q: Is the water available inside the homes or do the people have to buy from tankers?
A: The water reaches all the homes in an organized and regular sense: that is, twice a week, and also purchase of water depends on the consumption of the families. As for the infrastructure like sewage and cleaning, they are also available.
Q: And the water services are affiliated with the council?
A: The main ones only: the tankers are private and not affiliated with us. We have protected all public properties from destruction or looting.
Q: How many members are on the city council and what are its main offices?
A: 14 members, divided over six offices. Head office, education office, accounting office, social affairs and work, media office, relief and IDPs affairs office.
Q: What are the biggest accomplishments and projects of the council recently?
A: Currently we are undertaking a project of building and temporary residential units. We have signed a number of contracts with aid organizations. Also we have secured a financial sum to renovate the schools and roads, and we are working on this project now.
Q: With which aid organizations have you worked?
A: With all of them. No aid organization can work unless we agree as a province council to it.
Q: The council is currently affiliated with the Salvation Government?
A: We are under the government's supervision.
Q: What are the biggest challenges regarding the humanitarian situation and services currently?
A: Lack of available of secure refuges and the substantial population density. This is intensifying our consumption of the flour substance in the first instance.
Q: How do you secure the flour?
A: The flour is secured through two stages. Either direct support from the Salvation Government through buying it from Turkey, or buying the crops from the people and storing them and using them at the expense of the council.
Q: In addition to securing flour how does the Salvation Government help you?
A: Securing fuels for the ovens, and for the vehicles that operate in services.
Q: The fuels come from Turkey?
A: There is no other way besides it.
Q: How are members of the council chosen?
A: Through submission of candidacy, and the member who obtains the greatest number of votes for every office wins.
Q: So internal elections within the council?
A: The submission of candidacy is through the council, or publishing it through our page. And choosing the candidates is internal: that is, through mutual satisfaction.