UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock briefed the Security Council in New York on Wednesday (Jan 29) of his top concern regarding the “dire and deteriorating humanitarian situation” affecting women and children in northwest Syria.
Mr Lowock described the fighting in those areas as appearing to be “more intense than anything we have seen in the last year,” and that “hostilities have escalated in recent days in the Idlib area, especially around Ma’arat al-Numan, Saraqeb and western Aleppo.”
He painted a picture of traumatized people under siege feeling “totally abandoned by the world”.
“They don’t understand why this Council is unable to stop the carnage amongst a civilian population trapped in a war zone,” he underscored.
“Their message to you is essentially the same one I relayed when I briefed you on 30 July: “We are afraid. Please help us. Make it stop.’”
Civilians continue to be subjected to heavy bombardment and shelling. The UN human rights office (OHCHR) documented at least 81 mostly women and children killed by air and ground-based strikes between January 15-23 alone.
“This total is in addition to the more than 1,500 civilian deaths that OHCHR has verified since the escalation began in late April”, he detailed.
While the most alarming reports are from southern Idlib, where hundreds of Government airstrikes have been concentrated, non-State armed groups continue to shell Aleppo city, killing or injuring dozens of civilians.
“Many families are moving multiple times”, said Mr. Lowcock. “They arrive in a place thought to be safe, only for the bombs to follow, so they are then forced to move again”.
Amidst the fighting, humanitarian organizations have provided food to more than 1.4 million civilians and health supplies to treat almost 200,000 people.
Stressing that the most urgent need is “to protect the civilian population and to scale up the humanitarian response”, the Humanitarian Coordinator called on “all parties to facilitate safe and unhindered access for humanitarian workers and supplies to address civilians’ essential needs”.
Turning to northeast Syria, he said that some 70,000 people have remained internally displaced since military operations began last October.
“An additional 90,000 people are living in IDP camps”, said the relief chief, noting that overall there are around 1.8 million in the northeast in need of humanitarian assistance. (Source: UN News)