Aleppo Dump Poses Health Hazard

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May 12, 2015
Aleppo, Syria

Residents of the rebel-held Dawwar Jisr al-Hajj neighborhood in Aleppo have to breathe toxic fumes from an uncovered dump. People suffer serious respiratory tract infections and skin diseases because of living near the makeshift landfill, says a public health activist, who urged people to leave the area.

Local residents complained in interviews that Aleppo's local council, which supports the opposition, has not met its duties in finding a solution for this problem.

TRANSCRIPT

00:58 – 01:36
“Trucks are only moving garbage around; they are not removing garbage out of the dump. The local council is not providing any support for its employees. Q: Who is responsible for moving garbage out of the dump?
A: The local council.
Q: And the local council lacks support.
A: It does not have any support. Even our salaries are meager.
Q: There are no good salaries.
A: No, because there is no support.
Q: What is the solution?
A: The solution… this causes malaria. This is poisoning the environment and people. They should find a solution for this disease.”

01:37 – 01:58
“I sent my children to the village because of this dump. I cannot buy them medications anymore. They mostly complain of chest diseases. They cough and complain about their chest pain all the time. I put them in a car and sent them to the village. This is better than buying medications. I do not want anything to happen to them. Nobody is listening to us. Nobody is responding to us at all!”

SOUNDBITE (Arabic, Man) Mahmoud Barakat, Public Health Activist

02:07 – 03:03
“The area surrounding the dump at Dawwar Jisr al-Hajj is crowded. We have suffered because of this dump for the past four years. This dump is supposed to hold garbage before it is transported somewhere else. It has been the source of bad odors resulting from decomposing substances. Microbes and germs are being diffused in the air.
During the summer garbage is burnt, which diffuses gases and fumes. These fumes spread into an area that has a perimeter of more than five kilometres. Most of the people who live in the surrounding area suffer from chronic respiratory diseases.
People suffer from respiratory tract inflammation. Anyone who has asthma cannot live in this area, either.
Most people who live around Dawwar Jisr al-Hajj wish to find another place to live in because they want to escape fumes and odors.”

03:04 – 03:40
“Many people here suffer from skin and respiratory diseases. These fumes, which have been diffused for the past years, might also cause cancer. This is a very serious issue. This garbage has different substances, including plastic and chemicals. Burning these substances is diffusing toxic fumes. Despite several calls in the past four years, nothing has changed. The policy about this dump has not changed. Everything has been the same.
We urge people to leave this area. Leave this area!”

03:41 – 03:54
“It is not acceptable that I have to wear a mask while walking in the street. It is not acceptable either that bad odor goes through my window, which I have to keep open during the summer. My house is one kilometre away from the dump, as you just saw. I do not dare to open the windows because of the smell.”

SOUNDBITE (Arabic, Man) Unnamed Local Resident
04:34 – 05:15 “I am one of the people who live near the dump of Dawwar Jisr al-Hajj. The dump is completely full. We urge officials who are responsible for this dump to remove the garbage. The diseases from which we are suffering are indescribable. We are trying and urging and different people to do something about this. It is nearly summertime. This could cause leishmaniasis and malaria. We are dying from bugs. Chemical substances are reacting and catching fire. The fumes are also blinding us.”

SOUNDBITE (Arabic, Man) Mahmoud Barakat, Public Health Activist
05:40 – 05:57
“This is an image of the dump while is it on fire. It shows how smoke is spreading throughout the entire city of Aleppo. We urge officials to assume their responsibility towards the poor people who have not left this area. They need to remove the waste as soon as possible.”