Over 11 million people across Syria need aid — more than half the country’s estimated population — and the UN and other organizations are reaching an average of 5.6 million people a month, the UN humanitarian chief has said.
Mark Lowcock told the Security Council that across northern Syria four million people are supported by UN cross-border deliveries including 2.7 million in the northwest of the country.
With the resolution authorizing cross-border aid expiring in December, Lowcock stressed to the council that “there is no alternative to the cross-border operation” and its renewal is “critical.”
Lowcock warned that without a cross-border operation, “we would see an immediate end of aid supporting millions of civilians” which would cause “a rapid increase in hunger and disease.” “A lot more people would flood across the borders, making an existing crisis even worse in the region,” he said on Thursday.
Lowcock said he remains very concerned about the situation in the northwest, pointing to an increase in airstrikes and ground-based strikes mostly in parts of southern and western Idlib in recent weeks.
“In the last two days there have been reports of over 100 airstrikes in Idlib and surrounding areas,” he said.
More than half the people in Idlib moved there from other parts of the country, and hundreds of thousands are living in camps and informal shelters near the Turkish border, he said.
“There is little space left to absorb additional displacement,” Lowcock said. “The onset of winter — with the rain, the cold, and the mud it brings — compounds the dire humanitarian situation.”
The Syrian National Coalition earlier called on the UN Security Council to convene an emergency meeting to discuss the latest developments in Idlib province and to take the necessary steps to stop the criminal onslaught and systematic shelling. It also called for ensuring protection for civilians to prevent new waves of displacement from the areas which are being relentlessly targeted by regime forces and their Russian ally.
The Assad regime and Russian air forces have intensified the shelling and bombardment on northwestern Syria since early November, triggering a mass exodus of civilians towards the border with Turkey. The influx of IDPs has caused a humanitarian crisis as relief organizations can hardly meet the needs of hundreds of thousands of civilians fleeing from their homes. (Source: Syrian National Coalition’s Media Department)