Save the Children charity group warned that “some 270,000 people who have fled the Raqqa fighting are still in critical need of aid, and camps are bursting at the seams.”
In a statement released on Tuesday, the aid group’s Syria director Sonia Khush said: “The military offensive in Raqqa may be coming to an end, but the humanitarian crisis is greater than ever. Fighting still rages nearby and thousands more children are streaming into already overcrowded camps every day.”
“Children have missed out on years of schooling under ISIS and urgent funding will also be needed to help get them back into education. Many are plagued by nightmares from witnessing horrific violence and will need extensive psychological support,” Save the Children added.
“With high levels of destruction reported in and around Raqqa, most families have little or nothing to return home to and will likely be stuck in camps for months or years to come. In addition, more than 10,000 people a day are now fleeing ongoing fighting in ISIS strongholds around Deir Ezzour, 87 miles to the southeast.”
The aid group stressed that “substantial investment will be required to reconstruct the city’s destroyed homes, health facilities and schools, and to remove unexploded mines, before people can safely go home.”
Raqqa city has been the site of fierce battles between the US-backed militias of the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and ISIS to dislodge the extremist group from its biggest stronghold in Syria. The heavy fighting led to tens of thousands fleeing, creating the potential for a humanitarian disaster, Save the Children warned.
Meanwhile, Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the UN Secretary-General said that the “UN is not able to verify firsthand the situation in Raqqa due to lack of access.” He pointed out that the UN had received reports that “much of the city has been damaged or destroyed due to the fighting.”
At a press briefing on Tuesday, Dujarric said that the UN is “closely monitoring the situation and stand ready to deliver life‑saving assistance to those in need as soon as access is granted and security conditions permit.”
The Syrian Coalition earlier condemned the indiscriminate bombardment of civilians in Raqqa, calling for the opening of an investigation into the death of civilians and ensuring that those responsible are held accountable. The Coalition urged the United Nations to open safe corridors for civilians and the delivery of humanitarian aid to those in need. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department + Agencies)