“Hostilities have escalated in recent days in the Idlib area, especially around Ma’arat al-Numan, Saraqeb and western Aleppo”, said relief chief Mark Lowcock, describing the fighting in those areas as appearing to be “more intense than anything we have seen in the last year”.
People in Idleb feel increasingly under siege: bombardment follows them from place to place. They are traumatized and feel totally abandoned by the world.
Unless the current hostilities stop, we will see an even greater humanitarian catastrophe.
Under Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Mark Lowcock,…
English News and Press Release on Syrian Arab Republic about Food and Nutrition, Health, Children, IDPs and more; published on 29 Jan 2020 by OCHA
Civilians continue to be subjected to heavy bombardment and shelling. The UN human rights office (OHCHR) documented at least 81 mostly women and children killed by air and ground-based strikes between 15-23 January alone.
“This total is in addition to the more than 1,500 civilian deaths that OHCHR has verified since the escalation began in late April”, he detailed.
While the most alarming reports are from southern Idlib, where hundreds of Government airstrikes have been concentrated, non-State armed groups continue to shell Aleppo city, killing or injuring dozens of civilians.
“Many families are moving multiple times”, said Mr. Lowcock. “They arrive in a place thought to be safe, only for the bombs to follow, so they are then forced to move again”.
‘Make it stop’
Amidst the fighting, humanitarian organizations have provided food to more than 1.4 million civilians and health supplies to treat almost 200,000 people.
“This has all come in through the cross-border operation, as re-authorized under your Resolution 2504” Mr. Lowcock told the Council, calling it “the only way to assist the more the 2.8 million people in need in northwest Syria.”
Noting that cross-border humanitarian operations have “staved off a massive humanitarian catastrophe” there, he emphasized that civilians are “still suffering terribly”.
He painted a picture of traumatized people under siege feeling “totally abandoned by the world”.
“They don’t understand why this Council is unable to stop the carnage amongst a civilian population trapped in a war zone”, he underscored.
“Their message to you is essentially the same one I relayed when I briefed you on 30 July: “We are afraid. Please help us. Make it stop.’”
Stressing that the most urgent need is “to protect the civilian population and to scale up the humanitarian response”, the Humanitarian Coordinator called on “all parties to facilitate safe and unhindered access for humanitarian workers and supplies to address civilians’ essential needs”.
70,000 still displaced across the northeast
Turning to northeast Syria, he said that some 70,000 people have remained internally displaced since military operations began last October.
“An additional 90,000 people are living in IDP camps”, said the relief chief, noting that overall there are around 1.8 million in the northeast in need of humanitarian assistance.
While an average of 850,000 people in 2019 had received monthly assistance from within Syria, the removal of the Al Yarubiyah border crossing with Iraq, has prompted the World Health Organization (WHO) to forecast a reduction in the medical services and supplies.
As requested in Resolution 2504, the Council will be updated by end-February on the feasibility of using alternative modalities for that border crossing to ensure that humanitarian assistance reaches those in need throughout Syria.