Northern Daraa Countryside: Destruction Hinders Return

Six years have passed since residents of the northern Daraa village of Kafr Nasej were displaced from their homes, yet many of them have been unable to return because of the damage to their homes.

Before 2011, 3,000 people lived in Kafr Nasej. Opposition forces took control of the village, holding it from 2013 to 2015. Afterwards, regime forces and allied Iraqi militias recaptured it in 2015, banning residents who had fled the fighting from returning home.
 
After a series of Russian-sponsored settlement agreements were reached between the opposition and the regime in southern Syria in August 2018, residents were permitted to return to Kafr Nasej on the condition that those wanted by security forces undergo “settlement of status,” which is a temporary security pardon for people living in formerly opposition-held areas.
 
Settlement comes after an extensive investigation by more than one security branch, including scrutinising any actions that the person in question took while living under opposition control. The settlement process is compulsory for all men, although it sometimes includes women as well. Oftentimes the result of settlement, for men, is a short period of time before compulsory military service.
 
However, a large share of residents remain displaced because their homes are greatly damaged and they are unable to make repairs because they don't have the financial means. Kfar Nasej has no municipal council of its own and is administratively part of the neighbouring municipality of Deir Al-Adas, which is itself located within the Sanamein District.
 
Khaled, a displaced person from Kafr Nasej, lives with his family near the town of Kisweh outside Damascus, in a rental home. The rent consumes half his monthly income. Still, he feels that this solution is cheaper than returning to Kafr Nasej and rebuilding his damaged home. Khaled pays SYP 30,000 in rent, and estimates that rebuilding his house would cost around SYP 3 million, even before taking into account the latest increases in prices of construction materials.
 
Khaled told a correspondent for The Syria Report that his home was damaged by artillery shells fired by regime forces as they advanced on the village several years ago. However, in mid-2018, he signed official documents in the municipal building, saying that “terrorist groups” had damaged his house. Khaled’s signature effectively meant that he had recognised regime forces were not responsible for the damage after local officials pledged to compensate him. But more than two years later, nobody has reached out to Khaled about compensation for the damage.
 
Faysal is another former resident of Kafr Nasej. He now lives in the countryside outside Damascus after his home was blown up by a regime military engineering unit during fighting in 2015. Faysal has been unable to rebuild his house because of the high costs of construction materials. He also lost his sole source of income: the more than 200 olive trees he owned, which he says were burned down by regime forces.
 
Faysal’s father signed official documents on his behalf blaming armed groups for damaging the house. Like Khaled, he has not yet been compensated. No compensation has yet been made to residents of Kafr Nasej by any governmental or non-governmental body, despite multiple promises made by local officials.
 
 
Source: Kafr Nasej News page