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Recent fighting displaces largest number of Syrians in 9 years

11 Feb 2020

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People displaced by the fighting in Idleb. Credit: HFO Project

Nearly 700,000 people have been forcibly displaced in Idleb and surrounding areas in north-west Syria since 1 December 2019, most of them women and children. Based on an initial analysis, this represents the largest number of people displaced in a single period since the Syrian crisis began almost nine years ago.

Ongoing displacement compounds an already dire humanitarian situation on the ground in Idleb, and protection, shelter, food, water, sanitation and hygiene, health and emergency education are all urgent priorities.

Most civilians attempting to get out of harm’s way are settling in already overcrowded areas near the Syria-Turkey border. Many families are reportedly seeking shelter in makeshift camps and unfinished buildings. It is freezing cold in some parts of Idleb, making living conditions for people in camps and unfinished structures even more unbearable.

Several more hospitals and health-care centres across Idleb and Aleppo governorates have reportedly shut, suspended or reduced operations due to hostilities. Schools in Idleb city and the countryside have also reportedly been closed until further notice, affecting 160,000 students in 278 schools.

A massive humanitarian operation is under way and, this month alone, more than 230 trucks carrying life-saving assistance have been sent into north-west Syria through the Bab al-Hawa and Bab al-Salam border crossings, as authorized by the Security Council. The trucks have carried food, shelter material, water, sanitation and hygiene and nutrition assistance for more than 440,000 people in urgent need. This is in addition to the 1,227 trucks sent across the border in January.

Mark Cutts, UN Deputy Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Syria Crisis

A Humanitarian Readiness and Response Plan is in place for north-west Syria, requesting an additional US$336 million for the next six months. The plan aims to reach up to 800,000 people. An estimated 2.8 million people in north-west Syria require humanitarian assistance.

The UN urges all parties to ensure safe and sustained humanitarian access to independently assess needs and provide essential services to people affected by the crisis.