Humanitarian situation increasingly dire for displaced syrians stranded in camp near jordanian border.
Humanitarian Aid. Food supplies are dwindling and the humanitarian situation has become increasingly dire in a camp for displaced people in south-east Syria, a senior UN official said on Thursday, while condemning ongoing airstrikes and retaliatory shelling in opposition-held territories in the north-west.
of Benedetto Loprete
Now in its ninth year, as Syrian Government forces and allies reclaim areas previously held by opposition forces, the conflict has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives and displaced millions.
In Rukban camp, which is near the Jordanian border, UN humanitarians have repeatedly called for greater access since a second convoy last reached the site in February.
Echoing that message in Geneva, Najat Rochdi, Senior Humanitarian Adviser to the UN Special Envoy for Syria, said that more than 12,000 people had left the camp amid worsening conditions linked to shortages of basic services and supplies.
«The UN continues to advocate for a third humanitarian convoy and for food and fuel to continue to arrive to Rukban through commercial routes», she said, adding that 29,000 remain there «and it will take time. It is simple math», she added. «If they want to completely leave the camp – those people did not have any humanitarian assistance, any convoy, since February already».
Turning to the situation in Idlib, where violence has escalated in recent weeks despite a fragile ceasefire agreed last September, the UN official strongly condemned the targeting of civilians in schools and health centres – including some facilities that had moved to supposedly safer areas outside built-up areas after being targeted in previous attacks.
«Aerial bombardments including the reported use of barrel bombs causing severe damage to civilian infrastructures and civil casualties is a practice that goes against every single humanitarian principle», she said. «Also alarming, is the reported shelling from the de-escalation zone into areas under government control».Latest displacement figures indicate that more than 180,000 people have likely fled their homes in Idlib, Ms. Rochdi said, explaining that for many, this was not the first time they had been forced to flee conflict from elsewhere in Syria.
Most had moved further to the north and east, she said, while others had gone to Aleppo.
«People fleeing because of fear and because of bombing is their cruel daily reality», she said. «But now, if the bombing is continuing where do you want them to flee? They already fled there as the last resort…Where is it that they will be able to go?»
Speaking to journalists after chairing a meeting of the Humanitarian Task Force on Syria in Geneva, Ms. Rochdi reiterated the panel’s call for «an urgent de-escalation» of fighting in Idlib, and for the warring parties to recommit to the ceasefire agreement; in particular Russia and Turkey.
Of the approximately three million people living in Idlib, one million are children. Hundreds of thousands of lives are at risk because of the ongoing fighting, which has left tens of thousands of youngsters out of school and families sheltering under trees, the UN official explained.
«The insecurity there and the continuing airstrikes, is not something that is conducive really, to deliver humanitarian assistance», she said. «And as you know, some NGO’s, about 12, have suspended temporarily their assistance».
Syrian Arab Republic; Flash Update: Recent Developments in North-western Syria.
Due to the intensification of hostilities throughout northern Hama and southern Idlib governorates in the period between 29 April and 5 May 2019, over 150,000 people fled the area in search of safety. The protection of civilians remains the biggest concern. Shelling, airstrikes and active fighting in and around over 50 villages in northern rural Hama and southern Idlib caused destruction of at least 10 schools, leading to the suspension of education activities. Between 29 April and 6 May, at least twelve health facilities were hit by airstrikes in northern Hama and Idlib Governorates, damaging health infrastructure that provided essential health services to over 100,000 people. Between 28 April and 6 May, airstrikes and shelling caused at least 80 civilian fatalities and over 300 injuries. Three health workers with humanitarian organizations are among those reportedly killed by airstrikes.
A recent intensification of violence and hostilities in north-western Syria is severely affecting communities in Idleb and Hama governorates. Since 28 April, there has been a marked increase in the number of airstrikes and shelling in northern Hama Governorate and southwestern Idleb Governorate reported, including the usage of barrel bombs. Areas particularly impacted include: Qasabiyah, Kafr Nobol, Badama, and Hbit communities in Idleb Governorate; and Kafr Nabutha, Latamna, Hawash, Hawija, Sehriyeh, Huweiz, and Madiq Castle communities in Hama Governorate. Since April 28, local sources reported at least 80 civilians have been killed and many others injured. Between 4-5 May alone, 38 civilians were reportedly killed, and 100 civilians were injured. Three health aid workers were reportedly among those killed in Madiq Castle, Has and Kafr Nobol communities, while ten other health workers with humanitarian organizations were injured. There are grave concerns over the impact this recent intensification of hostilities is having on the civilian population, civilian infrastructure and the provision of basic services. As of 6 May, at least 16 humanitarian partners have suspended their operations as a result of the violence. At least 6 food security partners, 3 health partners, 4 protection partners and 3 nutrition partners reported that they have suspended their activities in north-western Syria, with more reports of suspension coming at the time of reporting.
Developments in areas believed to be in or near the demilitarized zone has resulted in a new wave of displacement, as civilians flee towards areas they consider safer and away from the violence. Between 29 April and 5 May, 152,210 individuals (27,993 households) fled to communities in Aleppo and Idleb governorates. Of those, 138,000 are reported to be displaced within Idleb Governorate and about 10,000 to have moved into the Aleppo Governorate. Approximately 150,000 people already been displaced in the period between 1 February due to the recent escalation in conflict. An informal IDP settlement near an observation point in Shir Maghar village was affected by violence on 30 April. Another informal camp in Kansafra community was affected on 2 May, while an IDP camp in Tramla community was affected on 4 May.
Since the beginning of the recent escalation, several education facilities have been struck by airstrikes and shelling. On 30 April, a school in Qasabiyah community was damaged due to hostilities. On 2 May, three schools were hit by airstrikes in Kafr Nabutha, Hbit and Huweiz communities. On 3 May, four schools in Maar Tahroma community were affected. One school in Maar Tesin and another in Deir Sunbul communities were affected on 4 and 5 May consecutively. The recent increase in hostilities is having a profound impact on education activities. In Idleb Governorate, education authorities suspended school activities in southern and eastern areas until further notice. Additionally, Idleb University suspended its activities on 4 May until 11 May.
Medical facilities and health services have also been deeply affected following the recent increase in airstrikes and shelling in the area. On 29 April, the Latmana Hospital and the Madiq Castle Hospital, both in Hama Governorate, were put out of service. On 30 April, Hbit Health Centre in Idleb Governorate was rendered inoperable due to airstrikes. On 1 May, the Qastun Health Centre and the surgical unit at the Health Centre in Kafr Nabutha in Hama Governorate were affected by airstrikes. On 2 May, the Al Madiq Primary Health Care Centre was damaged due to hostilities. The health centre at the Rakaya Sijneh community was damaged on 3 May. On 5 May, Has Hospital and Kafr Nobol Hospital in Kafr Nobol district in Idleb Governorate; and Maghara Hospital in Kafr Zeita district in Hama Governorate were damaged due to airstrikes. On 6 May, the Al-Amal Orthopedic Hospital in Kansafra community in Idleb Governorate and Alzarbah PHC in Zarbah community in Aleppo Governorate were damaged due to airstrikes. All of these health facilities, collectively serving 112,000 people, continue to be out of service as of 6 May.
Since 29 April, four protection partners reported the suspension or closure of programming due to the increase in conflict in southern Idleb and northern Hama. In total, eight static service points (community centers, women and girls safe spaces, child-friendly spaces and health facilities) are currently non-operational in Madiq Castle, Ehsem, Heish, Maarrat al Numan, Kafr Nobol and Ariha sub-districts, with three cluster members in Madiq Castle, Ehsem and Heish sub-districts reporting a direct impact and damage to their facilities from airstrikes and shelling. The cluster members in Madiq Castle, Ehsem, Heish, Maarrat al Numan and Kafr Nobol further reported that their protection teams had been displaced, alongside other community members. As of 6 May, none of these centers are operational, meaning communities and individuals in need no longer have access to protection services, including psychosocial support and case management. On average, these centers and their mobile teams reach close to 600 women, men, girls and boys each month.
As the hostilities continue, the humanitarian impact will continue to take a toll on affected populations. Humanitarian partners continue to report on humanitarian needs and current response efforts, which will be compiled over the following days. However, a number of partners have already suspended their operations to keep their staff safe and many people providing services are being displaced. Humanitarian response is ongoing in areas affected by conflict in line with the readiness plan for northwest of Syria. Partners’ ability to response is, however, compromised by violence, as their staff are being displaced themselves, as they have to suspend operations to keep staff and beneficiaries safe, and as the infrastructure used to deliver service is being damaged or destroyed.