Following claims that Syrian government forces are preparing an attack on Idlib, aid agencies CAFOD and SCIAF have joined calls damning an attack which would cause vast human suffering for the millions of civilians trapped in the region.
Seven years since the beginning of the Syrian conflict, government forces have reclaimed most of Syria but according to a UN estimate, the disputed region of Idlib holds three million people.
Ahead of talks in Astana, hosted by Iran this Friday, many voices within the international community are warning against attacking rebel-held Idlib province.
Alan Thomlinson, Emergency Programme Manager for the CAFOD and SCIAF Joint Programme for the Syria Crisis, warns that an attack would undoubtably risk many civilians' lives. He said:
"An attack on the Idlib province would risk many civilians' lives, lead to further displacement of potentially hundreds of thousands of people and continue the suffering of the Syrian people who have already witnessed seven years of bloody conflict.
"The situation in Idlib remains very complex - but respect for humanitarian law and the protection of civilians must remain paramount.
"The Syrian conflict and any lasting peace will only be achieved by a negotiated settlement.
"This is the only way to prevent immense human suffering and ensure the safety and protection of civilians trapped in the region."
Notes to Editors
Alan Thomlinson, Syria Emergency Programme Manager for the CAFOD and SCIAF Joint Programme, is available for broadcast interviews, comment and briefings.
CAFOD is the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development and is a member of Caritas Internationalis (of which Caritas Congo is also a member). It works with communities across Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East, to fight poverty and injustice. The aid agency works with people in need regardless of race, gender, religion or nationality.
The Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund (SCIAF) works with people in some of the poorest countries in the world, providing emergency aid and practical long term support to those affected by hunger, poverty, war and disasters. In Scotland we bring together people in parishes, schools and across Scotland to lobby governments and big business with campaigns to address the causes of global poverty and injustice. We want a world without poverty where the poorest can survive and thrive. SCIAF is a registered Scottish charity, no: SC012302.
For further information or media requests please contact:
CAFOD: Elouise Hobbs on - Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Landline: 020 7 095 5453, Mobile: 07954 077 426 or or CAFOD out-of-hours media hotline: +44 (0)7919 301 429.
SCIAF: Val Morgan on 0141 354 5555 / 07914 408 589 / email@example.com.