The number of people displaced by violence since December in Idlib, northwest Syria, has now reached a record-setting 700,000, a UN spokesman said on Tuesday.
“This is the largest number of people displaced in a single period since the Syrian crisis began almost 9 years ago,” said Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. “Most of these are women and children.”
The continuing violence has shuttered, forced suspension or reduced operations in additional hospitals and health care centers in Idlib and Aleppo governorates, Dujarric said. Schools in Idlib reportedly have also been closed, affecting 160,000 students in 278 schools.
Most civilians attempting to get out of harm’s way are settling in already overcrowded areas near the Syria-Turkey border, the spokesman said. Many families reportedly are seeking shelter in makeshift camps and unfinished buildings.
The temperature in some parts of Idlib has now dipped to minus 11 degrees Celsius, making living conditions in improvised, unfinished structures even more unbearable, he said.
However, a massive humanitarian operation is underway and more than 230 trucks carrying life-saving assistance have been sent this month into northwest Syria through the Bab al-Hawa and the Bab al-Salam border crossings, as authorized by the Security Council, Dujarric said. This is in addition to the 1,227 trucks sent across the border from Turkey in January.
The trucks have carried food, shelter material, water, sanitation and hygiene kits as well as nutrition assistance for over 440,000 people in urgent need, he said. Enditem