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Syria/MENA: Wildfires Final Report DREF Operation n° MDRSY005 (31 August 2021)

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Description of the disaster

Between 8 and 12 October 2020, the eastern basin of the Mediterranean Sea has witnessed mass-destructive wildfires which are becoming a recurring annual event due to climate change. While possible causes of these wildfires vary, enabling elements including high temperatures, the warm eastern winds that are active during this time of year, dried herbs and bushes, and low humid trees, coming together to cause massive wildfires devouring acres of lands beyond rapid control of overwhelmed local capacities.

One of the hardest-hit countries was Syria, where wildfires killed four people and left around 45 injured with breathing complications and skin burns. Wildfires were reported in 265 villages in Lattakia, Tartous, and Homs governorates in eastern Syria with around 50 and 60 main fire points, and tens of other locations were also affected. A total of 300 fire points and villages of varying damage were reported. Most of the rugged mountainous areas were obliterated in the western countryside of Homs province, the eastern countryside of Tartus, and the northern countryside of Lattakia.
These fires caused material and environmental damage, burning homes of residents, agricultural crops, large parts of vegetation, forests, and nature reserves. In addition to that, it is estimated that the wildfire incidents burned more than 30,000 hectares of agricultural and forest land across the coastal region of Syria, affecting at least 27,000 families through the destruction and damage to homes and livelihoods assets, loss of power and water supply. It had a serious impact on some families, infrastructure and 2,765 families lost more than one source of their livelihoods.

The fires led to the temporary displacement of several people of some villages to neighboring areas, especially in Lattakia's countryside, as populated areas were surrounded by the fires. The displacement continued for a couple of days at the beginning of the emergency.