Syrian Arab Republic: Cross-Border Humanitarian Reach and Activities from Turkey (December 2020)

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Shelling in northwest Syria in December continued at lower levels than observed in November, still concentrated on areas around the M4 and M5 highways. Sporadic airstrikes were also recorded, mainly in Kabani in northern Lattakia governorate, while civilian casualties continued to be reported across the northwest due to shelling and explosive hazards including improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and landmines.

The arrival of winter saw an increase in incidents of fires affecting IDP sites, as the colder weather induced many people to turn to unsafe fuels for heating and cooking. Reliance on unsafe fuels is partly driven by the continued deterioration of the economic situation, with the Syrian Pound reaching some 5 percent lower in December than at its weakest point in November. People living in IDP sites were also affected by flooding brought on by heavy rains, which destroyed and damaged tents and caused access issues. The number of COVID-19 associated deaths more than doubled in December, while total COVID-19 cases increased by some 24 percent. From 5 December, the Bab Al-Hawa border crossing was closed to individual crossings every weekend; humanitarian and commercial crossings continued unimpeded.

As of December, 2.7 million people were displaced in northwest Syria, of whom some 1.6 million live in IDP sites. and In December 2020, the humanitarian community reported movements of some 43,000 IDPs across Syria, similar to numbers tracked in November.. At the sub-district level, departures principally took place from Afrin in northern Aleppo governorate followed by Idleb, Ariha and Dana in Idleb governorate, while Afrin, Sharan and Raju sub-districts in northern Aleppo governorate received most new arrivals. Some 3,479 displaced people reportedly returned to their place of origin in northwest Syria this month, primarily to Mhambal in Idleb governorate, followed by Afrin and Raju.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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