Although the threat of conflict continues to loom over Deir ez-Zour Province, the defeat of ISIS militants over the course of 2017 has allowed for many of the locals to gradually return to the province. With their return, life and economic activity in the towns and villages across Deir ez-Zour have resumed. The fact that the militant threat is no longer the most immediate concern means that many locals are now focused on reconstruction.
In the town of Jazrat Milaj along the Raqqa – Deir ez-Zour border, these efforts have materialised in the form of a massive street cleaning campaign. The campaign, organised by the Deir ez-Zour Civic Council, aims to clean garbage from the streets of the town, which accumulated over the course of the months when the conflict between ISIS and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) prevented any meaningful municipal activity. The garbage was a major source of risk to public health. Indeed, the locals here mention that a number of children have already fallen ill as a result of the garbage piles.
So far, the municipal workers here have cleared up swathes of the town’s garbage, allowing the townspeople to have a breath of fresh air for the first time in months. The workers say that they do not have much of a permanent solution to the garbage other than dumping it in the surrounding desert. In the long run, the accumulated garbage in the desert may end up becoming a problem too.
For now, however, the clean-up efforts have resulted in a veritable improvement to the quality of life here in Jazrat Milaj and people want such services to continue as long as possible.
These projects are part of a wider series of efforts that are taking place across Deir ez-Zour Province, now that the region has calmed down somewhat. In addition to the Civic Council, private entrepreneurs have also contributed, opening facilities to help make life a bit easier.