Syrian Arab Republic: Recent Developments in Northwestern Syria Situation Report No. 12 - as of 20 September 2019 [EN/AR]

HIGHLIGHTS

• The humanitarian situation remains alarming across northwest Syria where the effects of conflict continue to have a devastating impact on the lives of an estimated four million people.

• Hundreds of civilians have been killed or injured due to airstrikes and shelling since late April. In this period, more than 400,000 people from northern Hama and southern Idleb governorates fled their homes to escape from violence and to access essential services to survive.

• While the humanitarian response is ongoing to address the pressing needs of the newly displaced individuals as well as host communities, additional funding is urgently required to maintain and scale-up humanitarian response in the coming weeks and months.

400,000+
Displacements between 1 May and 4 September

4 million
People in northwest Syria

51%
CHILDREN (est)

25%
WOMEN (est)

$16.8 million
Funding required for winterization activities

$7 million
Funding required for shelter rehabilitation

150,000
School-aged children in immediate need of education services

$30.3 million
Additional funding required for education services

$30.5 million
Additional funding required for food and livelihoods assistance

SITUATION OVERVIEW

Hostilities in northwest Syria continue to have a devastating effect on civilians as well as on humanitarian needs and partners’ ability to deliver. The fighting between Government of Syria (GoS) forces and their allies and non-state armed groups (NSAGs) across Idleb, northern Hama and western Aleppo governorates, as well as frequent security incidents across northern Aleppo governorate, are taking a heavy toll on an estimated four million people. It is estimated that 76% of this population is women and children. While airstrikes having a significant impact on civilians decreased following the announcement of a ceasefire on 31 August, local sources continue to report isolated airstrikes and sporadic shelling along the frontlines in southern Idleb governorate. Although this brief lull in airstrikes brought a much-needed respite for civilians, the severity of the humanitarian situation in northwest Syria continues to be alarming.

Since the end of April, hundreds of thousands of civilians – including entire communities –have left their homes to flee from the violence and moved to areas further north in search of safety and for access to essential services. From 1 May to 4 September, more than 400,000 people have been forced to flee violence from northern Hama and southern Idleb governorates. Many of these families have been displaced multiple times before, depleting any existing resources that they may have had, rendering them extremely vulnerable. Moreover, displacement patterns indicate that the majority of the newly displaced people have moved to areas that are already densely-populated by people displaced into these areas earlier and are themselves in urgent need. This puts additional pressure on the current humanitarian response that is already overstretched. Both the host communities and the newly displaced individuals are in need of urgent assistance.

Moreover, some families reportedly had returned to areas in southern Idleb governorate following the decrease in airstrikes.
This is in particular to areas where the civilian infrastructure has been heavily damaged, and where many humanitarian actors have been forced to suspend operations.

While the humanitarian community continues to respond, gaps in the response as well as new challenges remain to be addressed. Winter is rapidly approaching, and winterization requirements are becoming more and more pressing as women, children and men who live in open air or in makeshift settlements will be at greater risk as the weather gets colder. At the beginning of the school year, due to start on 21 September after a delay of three weeks, it is estimated that half of the schools in NSAG-held areas in Idleb governorate have been either damaged or destroyed during the fighting or are being used as shelter for IDPs. Areas where the majority of the civilians have moved to are witnessing a shortage of space in schools, equipment and teachers, as the capacity of available schools has been greatly exceeded.

While active fighting between GoS and NSAGs does not affect northern Aleppo governorate, frequent security incidents reported in recent weeks negatively impact civilians and the operating environment for humanitarian partners and their ability to deliver. On 13 September, a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) exploded in Afrin city center, severely injuring 13 civilians, including two children. On 15 September, a VBIED exploded at the gates of a hospital in Ar-Ra’ee town in northeastern Aleppo governorate, resulting in the death of 12 people and putting the hospital out of service for at least a week. On 16 September, armed clashes between two groups in Al-Bab city in northern Aleppo governorate spilled over to a hospital where the wounded individuals had been taken. As NSAG forces attempted to arrest some of the wounded individuals, weapons were fired in the premises of the hospital. Such incidents, particularly those taking place in public spaces, such as hospitals, not only endanger the lives of civilians but also hamper the provision of basic services.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs:
To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.