Children and women living in the open after they were displaced by a Russia-regime offensive in Idlib Province in northwest Syria, December 2019 (Getty)
The UN has confirmed that more than 235,000 civilians have been displaced by the latest Russia-regime offensive in Idlib Province in northwest Syria.
Residents, local activists, and citizen journalists have told EA about the flight from the area in and near the Ma’arat al-Num’an, population 70,000, as Russian and regime forces prepare to occupy the city.
They spoke of desperate attempts to move the young, elderly, sick, and injured further north into Idlib, with one summarizing, “This is unbearable. I cannot stop thinking of the poorest left behind.”
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, covering the period from December 12 to 25, said, “With the latest escalation of violence in northwest Syria, civilians in Idlib governorate are again suffering from the devastating consequences of hostilities.”
The Russian-regime offensive was launched in late April, shattering a Russian-Turkish “de-escalation” zone. Seizing almost of northern Hama Province and part of southern Idlib, the assault has killed more than 1,100 civilians, wounded thousands, and displaced more than 600,000.
Russian President Vladimir Putin declared a pause in early September, but bombing was renewed in November and the ground offensive resumed two weeks ago.
The UN said the recently-displaced have headed for the cities of Idlib and Ariha, as well as towards camps on the Turkish border.
Many of those who have fled are living outside in the Syrian winter. The OCHA reported:
The immediate humanitarian assistance including food, shelter, winterization as well as health and psychosocial support is essential to support displaced individuals. In particular, ready-to-eat rations and cooked meals are a priority as people move, give that many of the newly displaced have no means to cook.
But the agency offered no prospect of action to alleviate the situation. Last week Russia and China vetoed a Security Council resolution to continue cross-border assistance.
“Many humanitarian actors in southeastern Idleb have been forced to suspend their operations in the areas, with many of them moving their services to areas further north where high numbers of IDPs [displaced people] are arriving,” the report noted.
Abu al-Majd Nasser, whose family fled from the town of Talmanes, towards the Turkish border, said Putin “wants to kill every Syrian who opposes the regime”.