The town of Markada in southern Hasakah became a ghost town after ISIS militants occupied it in 2014 after a brutal battle against Jabhat al-Nusra, an al-Qaeda affiliate. The battle and ISIS’ subsequent control over the town forced the town’s population to flee. Before the outbreak of the Syrian Civil War, the population of the town was over 2500. By the time the city was liberated by Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the population was considerably lower and economic activity was non-existent.
Under ISIS, there were numerous reports that the residents of the town were suffering from intolerable living conditions. The town was cut from the outside world by the group, which meant that aid could not enter for the suffering residents of Markada. The isolation also meant that the prices of vital commodities such as food and medicine rose considerably.
As the situation worsened and residents became too poor to afford food and medicine, life became intolerable. Diseases began spreading as a result of the lack of healthcare and schools were turned into shelters for the displaced, whose homes had been destroyed as a result of the fighting. The extreme poverty gave many young people no choice but to join the ranks of ISIS as child soldiers.
Since the liberation of the town in November 2017, life has slowly begun to return. The blockade around the town was lifted and vital aid was allowed to flow through for the first time. People began to return to the town in large numbers and business has gradually been revived.
With this, the famous Markada market has opened bringing hundreds of jobs for residents in the Markada district. Over the last year the market has grown to become one of the largest markets in the Hasakah region. Food, vegetables, clothes and household items are bought and sold here, bringing much needed income for the residents of the town who, for years, have suffered from poverty.