Nearly a quarter of a million people in northwest Syria have been displaced over the past two weeks due to an escalation of violence in Idlib province, the country’s last major opposition bastion, the United Nations has announced.
“As a result of hostilities, tens of thousands of families fled their homes in an effort to reach safety,” the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said Thursday. “Between 12 and 25 December, more than 235,000 people have been displaced in northwest Syria.”
The Syrian army, with support from Russian air power, has stepped up its attacks on the northwest province of Idlib, home to more than 3 million Syrians. The Syrian government has said that it is targeting terrorists in Idlib. But if the violence continues, even more civilians could be displaced in the coming weeks, international aid organizations have warned.
The mass displacement over the last two weeks has led to people being housed in mosques, garages, wedding halls, UNOCHA said. But it warned that “the capacity to absorb people in need may surpass available places” and their displacement in the height of winter “is further exacerbating” the humanitarian situation.
“People are leaving forcibly, you look at them and they look almost dead, they don’t know where to go,” Laith Al Abdullah, a White Helmets volunteer, told CNN in a phone call. “It is crowded now to the point where people are sleeping on the streets and under trees … People are terrified by the winter, we are getting a polar cold storm in few days, kids and women won’t be able to stand it,” he said.
Foot note from Refugee Aid team: Between 12 and 25 December, more than 235,000 people were displaced in northwest Syria, and many of them have fled to the border area where we work. We have been sending more and more clothing, blankets, and jackets to these refugees fleeing war. We do appreciate your prayers for continued safety and supply for those suffering. The pictures people are sending are horrific.