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Syria: Fear for civilians mounts as conflict in Ar-Raqqa intensifies

08 Jun 2017
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May 2017, Karama camp, rural Ar-Raqqa: Remethan, 10 (middle), and his family fled fighting in the village of Qadissya. Everyday, Remethan joins his friends in the camp to collect water for their families. Credit: UNICEF

Air strikes and shelling in Syria’s Ar-Raqqa city have placed thousands of civilians at risk and intensified an already desperate humanitarian situation.

Clashes and attacks have persisted across Ar-Raqqa as the Syrian Democratic Forces continue their advance against ISIL, killing and injuring civilians and damaging key infrastructure, including schools. The humanitarian situation in Ar-Raqqa has now deteriorated, with reports of increased shortages of essential commodities such as food, medicine and fuel.

An estimated 95,000 people have fled Ar-Raqqa city. But according to UN estimates, there are between 50,000 and 100,000 people still inside the city.

"With some 100,000 people displaced due to fighting around Raqqa since April, access is needed now through every possible modality. We need to see restrictions eased for those operating in the area," said Emergency Relief Coordinator Stephen O'Brien in a recent statement to the UN Security Council.

Humanitarian partners have developed a preparedness and response plan to meet the needs of an estimated 440,000 affected people across Ar-Raqqa governorate. On 6 June, WFP provided food for the 11,000 displaced people at a makeshift camp in al-Hamarat, east of Ar-Raqqa city, while UNICEF provided hygiene kits to 5,000 people at a camp in Ein Issa.

The UN calls for unconditional, unimpeded and sustained access to people affected by the fighting in Ar-Raqqa and, more broadly, to the more than 4.5 million people in hard-to-reach areas across Syria.