Continuing in the series of interviews with the People's Municipal Offices in the areas of Deir az-Zor controlled by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in order to highlight the humanitarian and services situation in those places, I turn now to the locality of Gharanij. This interview with the media guy of the People's Municipal Office in Gharanij was conducted on 26 June 2020.
Q: What is the number of inhabitants in Gharanij currently? What are its main tribes? What is the proportion of inhabitants who have returned since its liberation?
A: The last official survey of the locality of Gharanij was in 2005 as the number of inhabitants reached 35,000 and because of the high birth-rate and acceleration of it, it is expected that the number now exceeds 50,000. And all the inhabitants of the locality of Gharanij hail from the al-Sha'itat tribe in addition to the presence of some of the families displaced from other areas because of the wars and some of them have lived in Gharanij for dozens of years but their proportion is very small. As for those who have returned to it, their proportion reaches around 95% except for some of the families who have settled in Damascus and some of the Gulf states because of security, educational and difficult services circumstances.
Q: How is the services and humanitarian situation in general? For example the electricity, water, sewage and cleaning?
A: The services situation is very bad for the area is not services at all as there is no electricity at all and the people rely on buying electricity from private business generators and some of them rely on small household generators, while the houses distant from the densely populated neighbourhoods are completely deprived of electricity. And likewise the water is present in the locality: three water stations, but they do not work well because of the lack of presence of electricity and some of them work on the electrical generators but without benefit because the network of the main lines is impeded, so the people rely on buying water through its transportation in private tankers and they are at exorbitant prices, with the knowledge that the Euphrates River lies next to the locality. As for the sewage, it is considered acceptable generally but it does not cover all the locality despite the presence of some destruction in its channels because of the war. And the cleaning also is acceptable as the municipal office is working on sending some of the workers to remove the rubble and rubbish but there is a great deficiency in containers and cleaning workers as well.
Q: What are the biggest accomplishments of the People's Municipal Office since the liberation of Gharanij?
A: The Municipal Office works according to the capabilities available and by which the SDF supports it, but its work is limited to some repairs only without undertaking main projects and that is because of the lack of support offered to it.
Q: The region has seen an increase in the price of the dollar in a mad sense. How has that impacted on the life of the citizen and what are the measures to reduce the pressure on the citizen? How are the prices like bread, meat, vegetables and fruits?
A: The prices have risen in a mad sense and some of that has exceeded the limit and has not matched with the rise of the dollar but rather has far exceeded that- something that has struck the people with frustration and despair. This is what concerns meats and food goods, while the people have resorted to planting vegetables to reduce the burdens of livelihood as the area is agricultural so the vegetables are less impacted by the rise of the dollar.
Q: Are there any international NGOs helping you currently?
A: There are no NGOs operating seriously. We have only heard in media about the presence of NGOs in the area but without any noteworthy services, social or humanitarian project.
Q: Do you have a message for the world?
A: Our message for the entirely world is to save this area from collapse for the situation has become tragic and with the continual collapse. If it is not rectified in the area, the situation will go from bad to worse. And we desire your interest by God we have local NGOs, but no one is supporting them. Of course it should be added that there are the schools that need wholesale repair because there are no walls or services at all in them. And the martyrs, widows and orphans have no one to rely on or aid for them. The Sha'itat tribe is the tribe that has offered the most martyrs when in 2014 there was the massacre in which more than 1500 martyrs died and in the recent liberation as well there were martyrs who died. You can say in total more than 2700 martyrs alone have died from the Sha'itat tribe. And there is no curriculum among us in the schools: the components are lacking.