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830,000 people displaced in NW Syria in dire situation: UN

Published : 14 Feb 2020, 23:56

Updated : 15 Feb 2020, 02:00

  DF-Xinhua Report

Syrian military personnel are seen in the town of Tal Toukan, the countryside of Idlib province in northwestern Syria on Feb. 5, 2020.File Photo Xinhua.

The United Nations and its humanitarian partners are fighting an uphill battle to meet the growing needs of the hundreds of thousands of displaced people fleeing hostilities in northwest Syria, a UN spokesman said on Friday.

"Overnight hostilities have continued across most of Idlib and Aleppo, especially in Idlib City, Sarmin and Atareb," said Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. "Over 830,000 people have now been displaced since the beginning of December, and that includes 143,000 displacements of people in the last three days."

Dujarric said 81 percent of the recently displaced are women and children.

"We continue to scale up the response, along with our humanitarian partners to support all people in need, including in the provision of emergency food assistance, medical support and temporary shelter," he said. "The growing needs on the ground, however, continue to exceed the capacity of our humanitarian partners to deliver."

"Humanitarian needs are increasing exponentially," the spokesman said. "The ongoing emergency compounds the already dire humanitarian situation for people in the northwest, who have been made vulnerable by years of crisis, violence, economic downturn and, of course, multiple displacements."

Shelter is the most urgent need, as millions of people have been pushed into small areas not equipped to support so many people, especially during the cold winter, he told reporters at a regular briefing.

As of Tuesday, some 72 health facilities were reported to have suspended operations in the impacted areas of Idlib and Aleppo due to insecurity, the movement of civilians and other operational requirements, Dujarric said. The facilities had the capacity to assist, on average, 106,000 outpatient cases per month.

Nearly simultaneously with the spokesman's briefing and just down the hall, representatives of four current European Union members of the Security Council -- Belgium, Estonia, France, Germany, and a recent member Poland, read out their joint statement on the crisis.

The envoys said they were deeply alarmed by the military escalation in northwest Syria and described it as "one of the worst man-made displacements that we have seen anywhere in the world in years."