Amman, Jordan, December 28, 2019 — International Rescue Committee country director for northwest Syria Rehana Zawar speaks about the escalting violence in Idlib:
“The situation in Idlib is deteriorating rapidly and we are now in the midst of a major humanitarian crisis. Over the past two weeks alone, airstrikes and shelling have forced close to a quarter of a million people to flee their homes. A further 400,000 could be displaced over the coming weeks if the violence continues to escalate, which – along with 400,000 people already displaced by earlier waves of fighting – would push the number of displaced people inside Idlib to over a million.
“Conditions in Idlib are already at breaking point. Doctors we work with on the ground have told us that they see babies with malnutrition on a daily basis and that every month they’re treating children suffering from mental health issues as a result of the violence they’ve experienced. What is of even greater concern given this new wave of displacements is the fact that they’re telling us their hospitals are full and that they lack medical resources to treat those in need, but have at least double the number of patients now. Desperate to do their jobs, one doctor told us that her biggest fear is not being able to treat people who need her help.
“With hospitals and camps already at capacity, and public buildings such as schools and mosques rapidly filling up, many of the newly displaced families have no choice but to camp out in the open where temperatures drop close to zero when night falls. They urgently need food, shelter and fuel to keep warm as well as psychological support to help them cope with what has happened to them. We urge all parties to the conflict to abide by their obligations under international humanitarian law to protect civilians and ensure they are spared from the worst effects of the fighting. There is an urgent need for an immediate ceasefire to keep them safe, to enable civilians who are still on the move to reach safety, and to ensure that those who have chosen to remain at home can do so without fearing for their lives.”