By Natasha Hall
Since their start at the end of September 2015, Russian air strikes have displaced over a quarter million Syrians. According to Amnesty International, civilian harm attributable to Russia is on the rise. “We ran for our lives. We didn’t get to take anything with us. No blankets, nothing,” said Fatima, who fled Kafr Nboudha in Hama governorate to a makeshift camp called Jabal Harem on the Syrian side of the Turkish border. With borders more tightly sealed than ever before, temperatures dipping to 23°F (-5°C), and air strikes continuing, newly displaced Syrians have nowhere to go. As one UN official told me, “Everyday there is a new displacement… new arrivals… new needs.”
Kafr Nboudha is a town that experienced relative calm until three months ago when squadrons of Russian jet fighters began bombarding it. “It seems like the Russians are finishing the job that the [Syrian] regime started in 2011,” said Abu Qusai, a former resident. Prior to this bombardment, Kafr Nboudha—nestled next to a regime held Allawi village—had negotiated a truce with the government in the summer of 2014. As a result of the extended ceasefire, those displaced by fighting in other areas moved there for safety. When the Russian strikes began, residents I interviewed stated that well over half the population of Kafr Nboudeh were displaced persons from other areas of Syria.