INTERAGENCY STATEMENT: Military escalation could worsen suffering for vulnerable communities in Northern Syria
1 December 2022 - A renewed escalation in conflict in Northern Syria will be the last straw for millions of people grappling with the dire humanitarian conditions in the country’s 12 years of crisis, NGOs have warned.
Over the past week, intensified military action in parts of North West and North East Syria have sparked fears of further conflict breaking out and impacting populated civilian areas and crowded humanitarian displacement sites.
Across Northern Syria, civilians have been reportedly injured and key civilian infrastructure has been impacted, threatening people’s access to vital supplies such as power and water.
A Syrian aid worker in the area said people are worried about their lives: “People don’t know what is going to happen; there are fears of the unknown. The worst thing has been the targeting of power and gas plants. We already had problems getting electricity and gas and now it is going to get even worse. People along the border are talking about shelling and drones hitting different areas. It is a miserable situation for families and children, there is a deep feeling of anxiety among people.”
Over four million people are displaced in Northern Syria. A further surge in hostilities will put communities living in densely populated villages in the region at risk, potentially resulting in a new wave of displacement at a time conditions are already worsening. Some of the most impoverished communities live along northern zones where poverty, insecurity and risk of a conflict already prevail.
The latest developments come while the humanitarian conditions continue to deteriorate in Syria. Nine in 10 people live in poverty and eight in 10 do not have enough to eat. A malnutrition crisis has been further exacerbated by an unprecedented spike in inflation and food prices in recent months.
As cholera continues to spread across Northern provinces amid acute funding and supply shortages, a chronic lack of water and adequate healthcare has added to warnings that the spread of the disease will contribute to one of the harshest winters since the beginning of the crisis over a decade ago.
Humanitarian organisations call on all parties to refrain from further escalation and protect civilians. The violence must not impede aid efforts at a critical time of the year. A nationwide ceasefire must be upheld and translate into steps towards a political settlement to alleviate over a decade of suffering.
Notes to editors:
Statement by SIRF, Syria NGO Regional Forum, of which Save the Children is a member.
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