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Sunday 28 August 2016

Daraya, The Democratic Experience

About Daraya Council

This profile of Daraya Council was published in the 17 May 2016 issue of the APPG Friends of Syria's newsletter, Syria Notes.

According to the Local Council of Daraya City, it was founded on 17 October 2012, a few weeks after a massacre by the Assad regime of 700 civilians, mostly women, children, and elderly people.

The council serves a population of 8,300 people. The council has 120 members inside Daraya, as well as representatives working outside of Daraya. Every six months, individuals are elected to positions of responsibility by a secret ballot of all members of the council. An individual can only run for the same position for two consecutive rounds. The head of the council is elected by the people through public elections.

Daraya is living through its fourth year of siege, the longest period that any Syrian area has survived under siege. The council must provide all essential services, such as water, electricity, and communications. The council’s aid office does its best to provide aid to the population. It runs a public kitchen that provides a daily cooked meal for people, but it is dependent on availability of resources. The aid office supervises cultivation of farming land, and divides crops between the people. All aid services are provided free to all. So far more than 1,000 tons of aid have been provided.

As well as aid within Daraya, members of Daraya Council help organise aid in 40 different cities inside and outside Syria for refugees and displaced people from Daraya.

The council’s medical office provides services to those injured in attacks on the city. The office runs the only field hospital in the city, which deals with all kinds of medical needs, from traumatic injuries, to child birth, to complicated medical operations. The field hospital operates with very few resources.

The council runs three primary schools in Daraya. There were plans to expand to cover secondary education, but these were suspended because of the recent increase in attacks by the regime. There are no other forms of education in the town, due the constant bombardment and the lack of staff.

Other services include street cleaning, providing clean water, and fortifying shelters to protect civilians from bombardment.

Daraya is defended by its own. The Syrian Army in Daraya is made up of local citizens, and there are no other military forces in the town, nor any form of extremists. The military office is under the civil authority of the council.

Daraya Council website: