The humanitarian situation in northwest Syria deteriorated sharply during the month of January 2020. Massive population movements took place from southern Idleb and western Aleppo governorate, as a result of increased aerial and artillery bombardments as well as intensive ground operations driving rapid frontline shifts. During this month, Government of Syria forces gained control of tens of population areas, including Ma’arrat An Nu’man city, as well as parts of the M5 highway.
Throughout January, Some 464,830 people were displaced, of whom some 80% are women and children. Many had been displaced before, with each new displacement further dismantling existing coping mechanisms and increasing vulnerabilities.
This further concentrated larger numbers of people into smaller geographic areas, increasing the strain on already overstretched facilities and services in host areas. The population of newly displaced people exceeded the immediate absorption capacity of IDP camps in receiving areas, severely exacerbating shelter and accommodation shortages across northwest Syria. Thousands of families were reportedly accommodated in public buildings, schools and mosques, while hundreds of other families reportedly sheltered in unfinished houses, shops and other sub-standard buildings, as well as in open spaces including public parks, with limited or no access to services.
Severe weather conditions also worsened the hardship of both IDPs and host communities in northwest Syria in January 2020. Frequent flooding of camps and informal settlements were reported. On the same day, a windstorm struck northwest Syria, causing damage in the areas of Dana, Atma, Hazzano and Jisr-Ash-Shugur, reportedly damaging several IDP camps and affecting more than 470 families. The dire situation and reliance on humanitarian assistance were further compounded by the continued devaluation of the Syrian Pound, which drove increasing unaffordability of essential goods and services.
Protection of civilians, safe and weather-appropriate reception centres and shelters both in and out of camps, WASH facilities and emergency services including non-food items, heating, food and healthcare were identified as the main needs of the newly displaced population. On 31 January, an inter-cluster humanitarian readiness and response plan for northwest Syria was issued for meeting these needs for 800,000 people
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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