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900,000 Displaced

What is affected
Housing Private
Land Private
Type of violation Forced eviction
Date 01 February 2020
Region MENA
Country Syria
City Idlib & Aleppo governorate

Affected persons (number & composition)

Total 900000
Men 0
Women 189000
Children 540000
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Brief narrative

900,000 Displaced in Syria since December

A horrifying new level`: UN says 900,000 displaced in northwest Syria since December – 100,000 more than previously reported – as the Syrian army said it had retaken dozens of towns in Aleppo province.

A Russian-backed Syrian regime offensive in northwest Syria has displaced 900,000 people since the start of December and babies are dying of cold because aid camps are full, the UN said on Monday.

That figure is 100,000 more than the United Nations had previously recorded.

The crisis in northwest Syria has reached a horrifying new level, said Mark Lowcock, the UN head of humanitarian affairs and emergency relief.

He said the displaced were overwhelmingly women and children who are traumatised and forced to sleep outside in freezing temperatures because camps are full.”

Mothers burn plastic to keep children warm. Babies and small children are dying because of the cold, Lowcock said.

The Idlib region, including parts of neighbouring Aleppo province, is home to some 3 million people, half of them already displaced from other parts of the country.

The offensive that began late last year has caused the biggest single displacement of people since the conflict began in 2011. The war has killed more than 380,000 people since it erupted almost nine years ago following the brutal repression of popular demonstrations demanding regime change.

Lowcock warned Monday that the violence in the northwest was indiscriminate.”

Health facilities, schools, residential areas, mosques and markets have been hit.

Schools are suspended, many health facilities have closed. There is a serious risk of disease outbreaks. Basic infrastructure is falling apart, he said in a statement.

We are now receiving reports that settlements for displaced people are being hit, resulting in deaths, injuries and further displacement.

He said that a massive relief operation under way from the Turkish border has been overwhelmed, adding: The equipment and facilities being used by aid workers are being damaged. Humanitarian workers themselves are being displaced and killed.

US President Donald Trump on Sunday called for Russia to end its support for the Syrian regime`s atrocities in the Idlib region.

Syrian Army Makes Gains in Aleppo Province

The Syrian army said on Monday it had taken full control of dozens of towns in Aleppo’s northwestern countryside and it would press on with its campaign to wipe out militant groups “wherever they are found.”

The advances were made after President Bashar al-Assad’s forces drove insurgents from the M5 highway linking Aleppo to Damascus, reopening the fastest route between Syria’s two biggest cities for the first time in years in a big strategic gain for Assad.

Backed by heavy Russian air strikes, government forces have been fighting since the start of the year to recapture the Aleppo countryside and parts of neighbouring Idlib province where anti-Assad insurgents have their last strongholds.

Government air strikes on Monday hit Darat Izza, near the Turkish border about 30 km (20 miles) north of Aleppo city, wounding several civilians and forcing two hospitals to close, according to hospital staff.

Witnesses also reported air strikes in southern areas of Idlib province.

Civilians Flee toward Border with Turkey

The advances have sent hundreds of thousands of Syrian civilians fleeing towards the border with Turkey in the biggest single displacement of the nine-year-old war.

It has also upset the fragile cooperation between Ankara and Moscow, which back opposing factions in the conflict.

Turkey and Russia began a new round of talks in Moscow on Monday after several demands by Ankara that Assad’s forces should back down and a ceasefire be put in place.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that militant attacks on Russian bases and Syrian positions have continued and “it is not possible to leave this unanswered.”

“Troops from Russia and Turkey on the ground in Syria, in Idlib, are in constant contact with each other, looking at changes in the conditions. They have a full understanding of each other,” said Lavrov.

However, the Syrian armed forces said in a statement they would push on with what they called their “sacred and noble task to rid what remains of terrorist organisations wherever on Syria’s geography they are found.”

Syrian Minister: Aleppo Airport to Re-open

Syria`s transport minister, Ali Hammoud, announced on Monday the re-opening of Aleppo’s international airport with the first flight, from Damascus to Aleppo, scheduled for Wednesday and flights to Cairo to be announced within days, state news agency SANA reported.

Pro-Damascus Al-Watan newspaper said the M5 highway, a vital artery in northern Syria, would be ready for civilian use by the end of the week.

The Syrian army had also opened the international roadway from northern Aleppo to the towns of Zahraa and Nubl towards the Turkish border, a military news service run by Lebanon’s Assad-allied pro-Damascus Hezbollah group said.

Aleppo city, once Syria’s economic hub, was the scene of some of the most vicious fighting of the war between 2012 and 2016.

The insurgent forces arrayed against Assad include Western-backed rebels and jihadist militants.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said his military would drive back Syrian forces if they do not withdraw from Idlib by the end of the month. On Saturday, he appeared to move that date forward, saying Turkey would “handle it” before the end of the month if there was no pull-back.

Alarmed by the new refugee crisis on its border, Turkey has sent thousands of troops and hundreds of convoys of military equipment to reinforce its observation posts in Idlib, established under a 2018 de-escalation agreement with Russia.

Original article

Photo: Vehicles carrying displaced people and their belongings drive through the town of Darat Izza, northwest of Aleppo. Source: RTE.


More than 900,000 people displaced

People in north west Syria are living through one of the worst crises since the war in Syria began. Due to intense conflict some 900,000 people have been displaced since 1 December and are now exposed to the freezing weather, according to the UN.

The humanitarian crisis in north west Syria has reached a horrifying level with almost 900,000 people displaced between 1 December and 20 February, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

“Fighting in north west Syria has resulted in the largest displacement throughout the nine-year conflict in Syria. More than 900,000 displaced people face precarious conditions as they try to flee towards areas over-burdened after consecutive waves of displacement,” says Angelita Caredda, Director of the Norwegian Refugee Council’s (NRC) Syria Response Office.

Dramatic escalation in Idlib

The majority of women, men and children who have fled their homes to escape attacks have moved to north western Idlib governorate, a small area already hosting hundreds of thousands of displaced people. The entire population of the Idlib area, estimated at three million people prior to the latest wave of violence, is increasingly concentrated in a small area along the Turkey-Syria border with no other place to go to find safety.

“The only way to truly protect the three million women, children and men now caught in the crossfire is to prevent the violence from spiralling any further. The most recent wave of mass displacement further strains an already stretched humanitarian response, especially as hundreds of aid workers have become displaced themselves,” says Caredda.

Alarming situation

The humanitarian community is doing everything it can but is overwhelmed by the scale of needs. An immediate end to the violence is critical. More resources, including funding, are immediately needed to save lives and alleviate people’s suffering.

Some 60 per cent of the 900,000 people displaced in north-west Syria are children, and number of children are reported to have died due to the freezing temperatures.

Aid agencies are once again adapting to the shifting context to keep reaching the most vulnerable, seeking approaches that will allow them to reach Syrians through the most direct means. Humanitarian organisations have a duty to stay and deliver so long as conditions allow, but it is becoming increasingly dangerous to operate as no place is currently safe in Idlib.

Urgent needs

Due to the high number of people who have fled their homes in the past two months and the rapid population movement, humanitarian needs in north west Syria are increasing exponentially. Shelter, non-food items, food and protection assistance continue to be the most pressing needs.

At least 93 per cent of the newly displaced individuals have identified shelter as a main need.

“Displaced people in north west Syria are struggling to find shelter. Families in Idlib are being turned away from overcrowded camps and are in dire need of shelter, mattresses, blankets and food. This is forcing tens of thousands to sleep out of the open and in unfinished buildings in freezing temperatures,” says Caredda.

Scale up the funding

The humanitarian response has managed to secure less than a third of the funding needed to meet the needs of 900,000 people until July 2020.

Funding is still required to support the humanitarian response across Syria: About two thirds of people in need of humanitarian aid in Syria are now in areas under government control. NRC calls on donor countries not to abandon them and instead scale up their funding for programmes to help these civilians.

People affected by war and displacement have the same right to assistance, irrespective of who is in control of the territory. It does not matter if the government or an armed group controls the area, and it should not matter to donors. At the same time, we call on the Syrian government to lift its restrictions on aid, especially in the form of bureaucratic impediments and excessive delays in approving aid delivery.

Host countries and returns

NRC is also calling for donors to continue supporting the 5.7 million Syrian refugees still living in Syria’s neighbouring countries. While the majority of these refugees tell us that they wish to return to Syria in the future, they are still scared to do so because of fighting, lack of essential services and fear of retribution. Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey need to ensure these people can continue to live in safety and dignity, and the international community must support them to do so.

NRC in Syria

NRC is one of only a few agencies operating across all of Syria. Against a backdrop of intense conflict, we work to provide emergency, transitional and longer-term assistance to people in need. NRC reached over 400,000 people in need in Syria in 2019.

NRC is also assisting Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries, including Iraq, Lebanon and Jordan.

Original source

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