Nearly 600,000 Syrians are surging toward the Turkish border to escape unexpectedly swift Syrian government advances into the country’s last opposition-held enclave, amid warnings that the exodus could mushroom into the worst humanitarian crisis of the nearly nine-year war.
More than 200,000 people have fled their homes in the past week alone, according to U.N. figures. They are streaming north along clogged roads toward the relative safety of the Turkish border, as Syrian troops, backed by Russian airstrikes, slice through opposition-held towns and villages in the northwestern provinces of Idlib and Aleppo.
They have joined more than 300,000 people displaced from areas farther south since the launch of a government offensive in early December, bringing to 586,000 the number of people now on the move in a shrinking pocket of territory hugging the Turkish border.
More than half are children, most of the rest are women, and they are sleeping on roadsides or camping under trees in muddy fields because there is no accommodation to be had, the United Nations says. The existing camps are full, local homes have taken in all the people they can hold, and there is an acute shortage of tents to provide shelter from harsh winter temperatures, which are projected to drop to 19 degrees Fahrenheit over the weekend.
[The Washington Post]