The people of Zamrin, Daraa, rebuild their town after destruction

There is a flurry of activity in the village of Zamrin (also known as Zimreen). The locals here are working hard to rebuild their homes, schools, medical facilities and mosques following more than three-years of devastation and more and more villagers are returning. Located in the northern Daraa countryside, Zamrin borders the government-held areas of Daraa to the east and the north. Its position close to the Damascus provincial border has put the village in the frontlines of the war between the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and the Syrian Arab Army (SAA). As a result, some of the villagers here have not been to their homes in three years.

Compared to the rest of Syria, the areas surrounding Zamrin have been in an extended state of calm. The most recent bout of heavy fighting in the region took place to the south, when the government forces launched an offensive to capture the rebel-held town of Sheikh Miskin in late-2015.

Despite calm in the local area, instability on the provincial level has kept many residents away. In particular, the provincial capital of Daraa City has been gripped with fighting for much of 2017, plunging the province into an unpredictable stalemate. Further south, in the Yarmouk Basin, the ISIS-affiliated Jaish Khalid Ibn al-Walid controls a chunk of the countryside, acting as something of a wild-card in the regional balance of power.

The implementation of the Daraa de-escalation zone appears to have eased things somehow. Despite occasional violations, Daraa City and the surrounding countryside has seen a reduction of violence, encouraging residents to return and rebuild. Still, signs of war and destruction are everywhere.

In Zamrin itself, residents say that all basic infrastructure, health services, schools, mosques and wells supporting the population of 4,000 have been destroyed or rendered out-of-service. Nearly 60% of the village is virtually uninhabitable. The primary focus of the people of Zamrin is putting the school back in service. The war has deprived many of their children of education and they hope to get as many of them back in school as possible. It is expected that 300 students will be attending primary school and another 150 will attend secondary school over the course of the next education year.

Putting the medical facilities back in service is another priority. The villagers have repaired the building itself but finding medicine and skilled practitioners remains problematic. So far, Zamrin has been supported by the nearby towns of Jassim, al-Hara and Tal Shihab.

In rebuilding Zamrin, the villagers are virtually on their own. No aid organisations have offered the village any support, forcing the locals to source their own reconstruction. Still, the reduction of violence across the region has allowed many locals to afford a cautious optimism for the future.