Tag Archives: displaced

A look at key events in Syria’s Aleppo

The Syrian government’s capture of eastern Aleppo, held for more than four years by rebels, marks a horrific new chapter for Syria’s largest city.

Here’s a look at key events in Aleppo since the start of Syria’s uprising nearly six years ago:

March 2011

Protests erupt in the southern city of Daraa over the detention of a group of boys accused of painting anti-government graffiti on the walls of their school. On March 18, security forces open fire on a protest in Daraa, killing four people in what activists regard as the first deaths of the uprising. Demonstrations spread, as does the crackdown by President Bashar Assad’s forces, eventually igniting a full-scale civil war.

July 2012

Rebel fighters seize eastern Aleppo, dividing the city. The intense fighting that follows, including almost daily barrel bombs dropped on the poorer and more densely populated rebel-held east, causes an estimated 1 million civilians to flee. Another half million are displaced inside the eastern part of the city in the first year of the conflict.

October 2012

The U.N. negotiates a short-lived truce for the whole city during the Muslim Eid al-Adha holiday. Fighting destroys cultural and historic sites, including the Grand Umayyad mosque, which both sides fought to control.

December 2012

Rebels launch an offensive that expands their presence in Aleppo province and secures supply lines to the Turkish border. They seize a number of military and air bases, increasingly isolating government forces. All flights from Aleppo airport are suspended after al-Qaida-linked fighters threaten to shoot down civilian planes.

January 2013

Bodies begin washing up on the banks of Aleppo’s Queiq River, in the rebel-held Bustan al-Qasr neighborhood. Human Rights Watch says at least 147 bodies were retrieved from the river between January and March. It says the victims were most likely killed in government-controlled areas.

April 2013

Aleppo’s ancient Citadel, used by government forces as a base, comes under rebel fire. The government targets the Umayyad mosque minaret, suspecting rebels were using it as a base. Amid the fighting, passageways between the two sides of the divided city emerge, allowing an informal link for residents, but also turning deadly at times, as sniper fire kills many.

August 2013

Insurgents gain control of the Aleppo-Damascus highway, tightening the siege on the government part of the city. Residents of eastern Aleppo take food and vegetables through illicit passageways to their relatives in western Aleppo.

October 2013

Poor coordination and infighting weaken the rebels’ ranks. That winter, Islamic State militants clash with the rebels, establishing a presence in the eastern part of the city.

December 2013

The government begins an unprecedented campaign of dropping barrel bombs on Aleppo city and surrounding areas, driving more people out of eastern Aleppo. IS expands its presence in the eastern part of city.

January 2014

Rebels unite against IS, driving the extremists out of Aleppo city. Government forces exploit the fighting to push the rebels back.

May 2014

Using a new tactic, rebels tunnel beneath a hotel used as a government command and control center and blow it up. The government’s barrel bomb campaign on eastern Aleppo intensifies.

March 2015

Insurgents blow up the Air Force Intelligence building in Aleppo after digging a tunnel, a symbolic victory. The newly formed Army of Conquest, which brings together rebels and al-Qaida-linked fighters, seizes Idlib city to the northwest.

October 2015

Russia begins launching airstrikes to bolster Assad’s forces. Syrian troops launch an offensive around Aleppo. Iraqi, Lebanese and Iranian militias also throw their weight behind the government, setting the stage for a wider offensive against Aleppo that would continue until the following year.

February 2016

Russia and the U.S. broker a cease-fire that excludes extremists. Signs of normal life return to Aleppo.

April 2016

The cease-fire collapses, bombing resumes, and the Castello road, the only road out of eastern Aleppo, becomes a death trap.

July 2016

The government and allied forces impose a full siege on eastern Aleppo, home to an estimated 250,000 people. Rebel fighters break the siege for a couple of weeks from the southern front, but it is re-imposed by August.

September 2016

A cease-fire negotiated by Russia and the United States holds for a few days, but talks to bring in aid go nowhere, and an airstrike hits a humanitarian aid convoy north of the city.

October 2016

Russia announces it is suspending its airstrikes on eastern Aleppo and designates humanitarian corridors, urging the rebels and residents to leave the eastern enclave. The rebels reject the offer, no one uses the corridors and the U.N. says it cannot carry out medical evacuations due to security concerns. The government continues its air raids on eastern Aleppo.

November 2016

The government launches a renewed and intensified aerial campaign. In late November, Syrian troops and allied forces launch a major ground offensive, rebel defenses crumble and thousands flee.

Driven out: Housing crisis looms in flood-stricken Louisiana

With an estimated 40,000 homes damaged by deadly flooding, Louisiana could be looking at its biggest housing crunch since the miserable, bumbling aftermath of Hurricane Katrina a decade ago.

People whose homes were swamped by some of the heaviest rains Louisiana has ever seen are staying in shelters, bunking with friends or relatives, or sleeping in trailers on their front lawns. Others unable or unwilling to leave their homes are living amid mud and the ever-present risk of mold in the steamy August heat.

Many victims will need an extended place to stay while they rebuild. Countless others didn’t have flood insurance and may not have the means to repair their homes. They may have to find new places altogether.

“I got nowhere else to go,” said Thomas Lee, 56, who ekes out a living as a drywall hanger — a skill that will come in handy. His sodden furniture is piled at the curb and the drywall in his rented house is puckering, but Thomas still plans to keep living there, sleeping on an air mattress.

Exactly how many will need temporary housing is unclear, but state officials are urging landlords to allow short-term leases and encouraging people to rent out any empty space.

“If you have a unit that’s an old mother-in-law suite and you can rent it out, let us know,” said Keith Cunningham, who heads the Louisiana Housing Corporation, the state housing agency.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, whose very name became a punchline during Katrina, said it will look into lining up rental properties for those left homeless and also consider temporary housing units.

But FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate gave assurances that the temporary units won’t be the old FEMA travel trailers — a reference to the ones brought in after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita that were found to have toxic levels of formaldehyde.

The flooding that has struck the Baton Rouge and Lafayette areas has left at least 13 people dead.

More than 30,000 have been rescued, and at least 70,000 have registered for federal disaster assistance.

At the height, 11,000 people were staying in shelters, though that had dropped to 6,000 by Wednesday.

For the foreseeable future, home for Carolyn Smith, her husband, two grown sons and a family friend will be a 30-foot travel trailer supplied by a relative. It has one bedroom, a sofa-sleeper, four bunks and one bathroom.

It sits in the driveway of the home she and her husband lived in for 48 years in Denham Springs. Nearby lies a pile of stinking debris pulled from the flooded, one-story wood-frame home.

Smith and her husband are both in their 70s and on fixed incomes. She said she’s not sure how they will make it in coming months as they try to rebuild the house, which took on more than 4 feet of water.

“We’re starting over again. From rock bottom,” she said. “At our age that’s kind of rough.”
In a sign of the housing crunch, Livingston Parish officials are talking with FEMA about getting temporary housing for emergency and rescue workers. An estimated 75 percent of the homes in the parish of 138,000 residents were a total loss.

Those with flood insurance will be in a much better place to begin rebuilding — but there won’t be many of them.

Louisiana Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon said that only 12 percent of the homes in hard-hit Baton Rouge were covered by flood insurance, and only 14 percent in Lafayette.

Across the flood-stricken area, many residents said they weren’t required to have flood insurance and didn’t have it, since nothing remotely like this had ever happened before.

“My father’s owned this place for 70 years. Never seen it like this. We never thought we needed it,” said Chris Bankston, owner of an auto parts place in the Livingston Parish town of Albany where workers were shoveling debris.

Water crept into his parking lot Friday night, and by Sunday his gasoline pumps were covered. Floodwaters had never come within 200 yards of the place before, he said.

FEMA said more than 9,000 flood claims have been filed with the agency.

Anyone with flood damage is eligible for FEMA aid of close to $33,000 — far less than many people without flood insurance will need to repair and replace their damaged property. The maximum payout under a home flood insurance policy is $250,000.

Joseph Bruno, a New Orleans lawyer who is a veteran of the Katrina insurance wars, fears the greatest needs could be borne by elderly residents who paid off their homes and weren’t required by their bank to carry flood insurance.

Ronald Robillard, 57, and his 65-year-old brother, William Robillard, have been living next door to each other in Baton Rouge homes owned by the older brother. Since both places flooded, they have been sleeping at a shelter at night and cleaning up the homes by day.

William owns the homes free and clear. He doesn’t have flood insurance to pay for the repairs but isn’t waiting for any government aid.

“I figure by fixing it up one room at a time, we’ll be fine,” William said.

“If they give us help, fine,” Ronald added. “We ain’t looking for a handout. Just a hand. That’s a true statement.”

On the web

Updates from the White House.

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