Halfaya: Municipality to Compensate Damaged Homes, But Only for Loyalists

There is talk among residents of Halfaya, a city north of Hama, that owners of homes damaged by the war may receive compensation of SYP 6 million. It is unclear where the funding for the compensation may be sourced, or which body would be responsible for distributing the money.

Halfaya is located north of Hama city, in a fertile agricultural area. It served as an industrial area for the northern Hama countryside before 2011 and was home to around 35,000 people. Rebel factions held Halfaya for several years before regime forces recaptured it in 2017. The city remained a military zone from 2017-2019, with a base for Russian forces established nearby.

Only around 240 families now live in Halfaya after regime forces allowed them to return in December 2019. The city still suffers from poor public services. Drinking water is sold from large tanks, electricity networks are not running, and the roads need full maintenance.

In recent days, a list has circulated among residents containing the names of 20 individuals, representing 20 families, who are said to be the only people entitled to compensation, to be used to refurbish their damaged homes. The 20 individuals were reportedly requested to visit the Halfaya City Council to complete their files with a new real estate registry record. The list was leaked from a private WhatsApp semi-official group in the city. It was reportedly prepared by a former commander in the regime’s National Defence Forces (NDF), who now serves as an official in the Halfaya City Council. All the names included on the list appear to be those of residents who are loyal to the regime, some of whom are involved in the military or security forces.

According to a correspondent for The Syria Report in the area, the official responsible for drawing up the list told residents who had objected: "Compensation is not for the poor, but for the honourable," meaning those known to be loyal to the regime.

That is, out of 240 families now living in Halfaya, only 20 families so far are considered by the security forces as loyal to the regime. This vetting helps serve a small network of local beneficiaries who have come to monopolise the few aid supplies and public services that have been provided to the city. This applies to the distribution of fuel, seeds, and fertiliser, and even household water tanks.

The head of the Hama governorate’s military and security committee issued a decree on 11 August that banned the ploughing of Halfaya’s agricultural lands until the committee formed by Administrative Order No. 3077 finishes taking stock of the properties belonging to former Halfaya residents who have been displaced to opposition-held territories elsewhere.

This was followed by the Military Security’s seizure of properties belonging to displaced residents who are wanted by security forces. The word “confiscated” was then written on their seized homes and shops. As for the properties of displaced residents who were not wanted by security, they were offered in October for investment in a public auction.

The leaked list

 

Source: The Syria Report correspondent