Intensified attacks in Syria leaving civilians with nowhere to flee

Intensified attacks and fighting in Azaz district in northern Syria this week have left thousands of civilians with nowhere safe to flee as they are caught in the crossfire.

Many families are currently fleeing for safety in already highly overcrowded areas by the Turkish border. Refugees caught at the Jordanian border have also more than doubled over the last month.

Over the last month and a half thousands were displaced from Idleb, Homs, Aleppo and Latakia, and most of the aid agencies are now unable to reach them.

The increase in conflict has meant major humanitarian routes have been blocked and entry of aid through the designated border crossings from Turkey has been largely affected. The Norwegian Refugee Council is one of many aid agencies that have had to suspend programmes in the areas of intensified conflict, affecting tens of thousands of people in need of food, shelter, blankets and plastic sheeting. Many will have to suffer through the cold as winter weather sets in without basic first need items after being displaced. Aid workers themselves are risking their lives with new offensives by various groups with some of them being forced to flee.

“The fighting is destroying all sorts of civilian infrastructure, from houses to schools, bakeries and hospitals. At the same time we’ve had to suspend most of our programmes in northern Syria because of the security situation, just when they are most needed,” said Jan Egeland, Secretary General of the NRC.

"External actors have intensified their military involvement while they publicly admit there is no military solution to this conflict, only political and negotiated settlements. As humanitarian actors on the ground we fear that intensified military intervention will once again undermine hopes for real peace talks. We are left with the impossible task of caring for ever more families forced to flee," Egeland said.

"With the current intensification of fighting from all sides and more bombings bound to happen, civilians have been left with nowhere safe to flee. Schools, markets and bakeries are being bombed and women and children are under fire. Armed groups are getting nearer displacement camps, potentially forcing people to flee again. The question now is: flee to where?"