Aid groups urge the international community to ensure an immediate and permanent ceasefire in Idlib as the humanitarian crises worsen in the last opposition-held stronghold.
Istanbul - “There is no Plan B in Idlib. And there is no Idlib beyond Idlib,” humanitarian organisations warned.
The increasingly desperate humanitarian crisis in the besieged opposition-held areas is causing a build-up of refugees on the border of Turkey. Many of the displaced people had already escaped and chosen not to live in Assad-controlled territory, many have nowhere else left to go.
Twenty-two humanitarian aid organisations representing thousands of humanitarian volunteers operating in northwestern Syria have condemned the international “numbness” regarding the unfolding humanitarian catastrophe in Idlib.
“The UN seems incapable of doing anything, and the Assad regime is the only country in the world with two seats at the UN security council,” said the aid agencies in reference to the repeated vetoes that have been exercised by China and Russia to prevent international action in the war-torn country.
The violence has resulted in almost a million people displaced, and hundreds dead in Idlib since December last year when the Assad regime began its offensive.
“The situation in Idlib is tragic, most people are on their fourth or fifth displacement, people are exposed to the elements, people are sleeping under trees and picking up only the things they can before moving again due to the constant ariel attacks,” said Amany Qaddour, a regional coordinator for the Syrian Relief and Development organisation speaking at a conference in Istanbul aimed at highlighting the ongoing plight of people in Idlib.
“The international community has become desensitised to what is happening in Syria. There is a huge shortage of basic needs for people; food, water and shelter are main priorities,” added Qaddour speaking to TRT World.
The recently displaced people will require more than $330 million dollars in funding and the UN currently possess only $70 million for this purpose.
Turkey has taken in more than 3.5 million Syrian refugees and a further displacement of people from Idlib, which borders Turkey, could strain services and overwhelm absorption capacity, warns Qaddour.
“Turkey is in a very sensitive spot right now, it's one of the countries that’s hosting such a massive refugee population and facilitating cross-border operations for NGOs inside of Syria. However, Turkey is bursting at the seams, I think the EU has a huge responsibility to support Turkey and so far it hasn’t been enough.”
The aid groups speaking at the press conference in Istanbul included the Syrian Relief and Development, Binaa for Development, Syrian American Medical Society, Physicians Across Continents, SEMA and the Syrian NGO Alliance.
Zahid al Masri from Physicians Across Continents warned: “Large numbers of health facilities across Idlib have been evacuated because of regime and Russian bombardment. There are many deaths that are occurring which are not being documented because the direct cause may not be Assad bombardment.”
Due to the constant displacement of humanitarian workers and medical workers who are also fleeing for their safety, it has become almost impossible to maintain reliable and secure supply chains warned al Masri.
“Patients with chronic ailments who need constant care are not getting it. Diabetic patients for which there are no refrigeration options to store their insulin they could die because of complications. Children, in particular, are developing respiratory diseases and malnutrition,” added al Masri speaking to TRT World.
In the long term, aid agencies will also have to deal with the invisible scars of war that have been inflicted on young children. More than 60 percent of those recently displaced are children and the trauma will be with them for decades to come if there isn’t proper intervention now, warned Razan Saffour speaking to TRT World.
Continuing attacks by the Assad regime and its backers, Iran and Russia, has left hospitals and health care facilities decimated, leaving many Syrians in the lurch and fending for themselves and their health care needs.
“If we don't start treating mental health issues now, what we are going to see is a generation of traumatised children turning into traumatised adults. That’s going to end up causing a lot of damage when the time comes to rebuilding communities,” added Saffour.