In this Issue
P.1 Humanitarian conditions in north-west worsen
P.2 Families brave winter at Areesha camp
P.4 New insight into disability in Syria
P.5 Working to build response quality and accountability
Humanitarian situation in north-west worsens
Humanitarian conditions for people in north-west Syria have worsened as the UN and its humanitarian partners work to address the needs of some 358,000 newly displaced people in Idleb Governorate, the vast majority of them women and children, following a second wave of displacement which began on 1 December 2019.
The deteriorating humanitarian conditions follow increasing reports of violence in the area and heightened concerns for the safety and protection for the over 4 million civilians in north-west Syria, over half of whom are internally displaced.
On 11 January alone, some 26 communities in Idleb were affected by airstrikes, including schools, hospitals, camps for internally displaced people (IDPs) and markets, as well as locations hosting those newly displaced.
Most of those displaced fled airstrikes and artiliery attacks in Ma’arrat An Nu’man area and the surrounding countryside in southern Idleb; fleeing northward to urban areas such as Idleb city, Saraqab and Arihah, in addition to overstretched camps for displaced people in the northwest of the governorate.
Some 45,000 newly displaced people chose to move to areas in northern Aleppo Governorate, seeking safety and to reach services, including Afrin and A’zaz, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported on 15 January.
This latest wave of people displaced, compounds an already dire humanitarian situation as over 400,000 people were displaced between the end of April and the end of August, many of them multiple times, worsening levels of vulnerability further in Idleb.
Some 1,506 civilians have been killed in the violence since the renewal of hostilities in the de-escalation zone in Idleb and surrounding areas on 29 April 2019 until 15 January, the Office for the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) confirmed on 17 January, including 293 women and 433 children. Of these, 75 civilians, including 17 women and 22 children (five per cent of the total), were in areas under the control of Government forces.
Conditions on the ground have been further exacerbated by extreme winter weather, including flooding and sub-zero temperatures, and rising fuel prices.
Vital services are contingent on a consistent supply of fuel, including hospitals, emergency operations, transportation, agriculture and bakeries. In winter, fuel is crucial for safe and reliable heating. With the decline of the Syrian Pound (SYP) and only imported fuel now available in much of the northwest, people are struggling to cope.
In Idleb, the price of one litre of imported first grade diesel rose 21.5 per cent over the past month, from 650 SYP to 790 SYP between 17 December 2019 and 13 January 2020, with similar price increases now being reported for second grade imported fuels also.
Key concerns over fuel price increases include the possible disruption of vital services, and the added risk of people resorting to using lower quality fuels to stay warm, fueling the risk of fires, especially in densely populated camps and shelters.
Response efforts Meanwhile, the UN and its partners continue to scale up their response efforts in the area, including non-food items, shelter, food and cash assistance.
As of 9 January, proposals for camp extensions in 14 locations have been developed to provide shelter to some 3,827 families, while 346,566 people have received food assistance. Some 116,000 ready-to-eat rations have been provided to meet the needs of 580,000 people, in addition to food rations for regular assistance. Life-saving nutrition has been provided to 22,696 children and mothers in 87 communities in 25 sub-districts. Some 10,742 protection interventions reaching 5,133 individuals have been provided to 34 communities within 17 sub-districts in Idleb and Aleppo, including psychological first aid and psychosocial support, distribution of dignity kits and of winterization kits for children, risk education and reunification of unaccompanied and separated children with their families. To bolster health services, additional general practitioners are currently being hired, while a referral pathway has been established to transfer patients between IDP shelters in sub-districts with particularly high numbers of people and nearby primary healthcare centres for pediatric, internal medicine and gynecological services. Education services, including formal and informal education activities, home schooling, and student bags and textbooks have also been provided, reaching 8,552 school-aged children.
Some 2.7 million in north-west Syria are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance, including food, shelter, water and sanitation, health and winterization assistance. An updated Readiness and Response Plan for approximately 850,000 people is being prepared, focusing on the needs of those newly displaced since 1 December (some 358,000), as well as possible further displacement of another 500,000 people in front-line areas.