Upsurge in violence endangers 3 million people in northwest
The United Nations continues to remain gravely concerned by the dramatic escalation of violence in northwest Syria which has resulted in over 400 civilians confirmed dead and hundreds of thousands of women, children and men displaced since the upsurge in violence began almost three months ago.
Ongoing clashes, shelling and air strikes, including the use of barrel bombs, continue unabated in Idleb, in western Aleppo and in northern Hama, damaging schools, hospitals, and other critical civilian infrastructure, while hindering humanitarian aid operations.
Since the beginning of May, over 440,000 people (as of 14 July) have been displaced from northern Hama and southern Idleb governorates, many of them multiple times. Some have been displaced up to five times, while others have been displaced as many as ten.
Most of internally displaced persons (IDPs) are currently living outside camps and reception centres. In Idleb alone, approximately 100 schools are now hosting displaced people. Camps for the displaced people are overcrowded, with many people forced to stay in the open air.
Entire towns and villages have reportedly emptied as residents fleeing their communities in search of safety. The majority of those fleeing have displaced within Idleb Governorate while a smaller number have moved into northern Aleppo Governorate. About one third of all newly displaced are in camps or reception centres whereas about 200,000 people are living with host communities or in makeshift shelters.
The impact of the hostilities on civilian infrastructure continues to be severe as vital facilities such as hospitals, bakeries, schools and water pumping stations are damaged or destroyed by airstrikes and shelling. Since the recent escalation of violence at the end of April, at least 39 incidents involving health facilities or personnel have occurred, killing and injuring civilians, people in need of medical care and the staff who care for them. At least 50 schools have been damaged due to airstrikes and shelling. In July alone there have been at least 29 incidents affecting civilian/humanitarian infrastructure or humanitarian staff or humanitarian staff, including 8 health facilities, 4 schools, 3 IDP settlements, 5 bakeries, 3 markets, 3 water stations, 1 ambulance, and 2 mosques. Several humanitarian workers have also been killed. Reports of more schools, health facilities, and other infrastructure being impacted have been received so the figures are likely to increase.
In what could prove one of the deadliest days of all, at least 60 people reportedly lost their lives and hundreds more were injured following a succession of attacks and violence in three governorates, including Idleb, Hama and Aleppo, on 22 July. Of these, the singular worst attack was on a public market in the town of Ma’arat al-Nu’man in southern Idleb in which at least 39 people were killed, many of them women and children.