Turkey | Syria: Recent Developments in Northwestern Syria (as of 10 January 2018)

Highlights

• Since 03 January, hostilities between Government of Syria forces and non-state armed groups continued at alarming intensity mainly in Sanjar sub-district in southern rural Idleb.

• Heavy bombardment on many communities in southern and south-eastern rural Idleb continued unabated, causing casualties and displacement among civilians and destruction of vital infrastructure.

• At least four attacks on health care and two attacks on education facilities were reported since the last update.

• Between 01 October 2017 and 09 January 2018, the Camp Coordination and Camp Management (CCCM) Cluster tracked 205,989 people who displaced in southern rural Idleb, northern and north-eastern rural Hama. This includes 99,569 displacements between 01 December and 09 January. Most of these IDPs are moving to the central and northern parts of Idleb Governorate, around the existing informal IDP sites in Ma’arrat An Nu’man, Saraqab and Dana sub-districts.

• The situation in Idleb Governorate is extremely chaotic with IDPs reportedly scattered across the open areas of the northern, central and western parts of the governorate. Reports of civilian vehicles with people moving continue to emerge.

Situation Overview

Since 03 January, hostilities between Government of Syria forces and non-state armed groups continued at alarming intensity, predominantly in Sanjar sub-district in southern rural Idleb. Meanwhile, there are worrying reports of heavy aerial bombardment and artillery shelling on many communities in southern and south-eastern rural Idleb. On 03 January, local sources reported five people killed (including three women) and eight injured in airstrikes on Tal Al-Tuqan village. In Ma’arrat An Nu’man town, airstrikes reportedly killed five people and damaged the town’s local council building. Despite the airstrikes, the council stated that it will continue to provide services. Also in Ma’arrat An Nu’man town, the Health Cluster reported that, for the third time in the same week, the Maternity and Pediatrics Hospital was impacted by an airstrike which caused structural damage to an unknown degree. A companion to a patient was killed, and a pediatrician and a nurse were wounded. The facility is now out of service. Prior to this event, the hospital provided an average of 8,200 consultations, about 915 admissions, 12 major surgeries, 295 deliveries and 225 C-sections every month. In the northern countryside of Hama Governorate, the Health Cluster reported that an NGO-supported hospital in Kafr Zita sub-district was impacted by an airstrike. The attack resulted in minor structural damages. As of 9 January, there are no reported casualties, but the hospital is no longer functional. Before this attack, the hospital provided an average of 929 consultations, about 78 admissions, 36 major surgeries and 35 war related trauma cases every month.

On 06 January, airstrikes hit an area close to an IDP settlement near Saraqab town with no casualties reported. On the same day, airstrikes on Al-Faaloul farm near Jarjanaz town reportedly resulted in the death of 12 people, including two children, three women, and a doctor who worked for an NGO-supported hospital. Barrel bombs reportedly caused partial damage to the Al-Khansaa School and the Teachers Preparation Institute in Jarjanaz town in Idleb Governorate eastern countryside. Of note were the airstrikes on the town of Abul Thohur, which reportedly damaged the town’s NGO-supported primary health care center, main market and municipality building. In the northern countryside of Lattakia Governorate, local media circulated images showing large destruction in the aftermath of heavy aerial bombardment on Al-Tuffahiyeh village. No casualties were reported as the village’s inhabitants had already displaced previously to the IDP camps near the Syrian – Turkish border. On 07 January, local sources in Idleb Governorate reported the death of 25 people and the wounding of 100 people due to a car bomb, which exploded in front of an NSAG headquarters on Al-Thalatheen street in Idleb City.
According to local sources, the situation in Idleb Governorate is extremely chaotic with newly displacing people reportedly scattered across the open areas of the northern, central and western parts of the governorate. Reports of large numbers of civilian vehicles continue to emerge. Due to the large number s of people moving, many are left with no shelter, which could expose them to various risks, especially as the winter temperatures continue to drop.

Shelter capacity in Idleb Governorate is reportedly low and finding a place to rent is extremely difficult. The large displacement is also exerting pressure on the local markets, making it difficult for NGOs to procure supplies locally.

Procurement procedures and shipping supplies from Turkey to Syria is time intensive. Civilians who fled with their livestock and large amounts of luggage and personal belongings mostly chose not to head to the NGO-run reception centers, as there is no storage capacity at these centers.

Humanitarian Response and Challenges

The Camp Coordination and Camp Management (CCCM) Cluster tracked 205,989 displacements in southern rural Idleb, northern, and north-eastern rural Hama between 01 October 2017 and 09 January 2018. This includes 99,569 tracked displacements between 01 December and 09 January. More than 18,000 IDPs headed to the center of Idleb Governorate, around the existing informal IDP sites in Ma’arrat An Nu’man and Saraqab sub-districts. Reports of congestion at IDP sites continue to emerge with partners working to identify safe areas where tents can be set up.

On 08 January, the CCCM Cluster reported that a new collective center with a capacity of 45 families was opened near Qah village in northern rural Idleb. The center is currently inhabited by 20 families (117 individuals). Two CCCM member agencies allocated sites for the newly displaced population. One location can fit up to 100 families with all services in place. The second location can host 50 families but needs more latrines. A new IDP site for 2,000 IDPs is being established. Tents have been dispatched to the site and currently the WASH containers are being installed.

The existing Reception Centers in Meznaz and Maaret Elekhwan towns are currently distributing brochures to ensure that IDPs are aware of the centers and the available services. Meznaz reception center currently hosts 1,112 IDPs with no gaps reported. The other center in Maaret Elekhwan town is hosting 764 IDPs, half of whom are in need of cooked meals and all require hygiene kits. The CCCM Cluster is in communication with the relevant clusters to cover the gaps.

With regards to the WASH response, the majority of locations that newly displaced people arrived to are already supported by existing operating infrastructure, in terms of water, sanitation and solid waste management. Hygiene kit distribution will commence once IDPs are settled in specific locations. Existing organizations working in camps and collective centers continue to provide WASH services to the new arrivals. In Meznaz reception center, WASH organizations continue to provide 55,000 liters of clean water and solid waste management services. Similar services are also being provided to IDP settlements around Sarmada, Salqin and Kherbet Eljoz towns. Planned activities include mobilizing five water trucks to Sanjar and Marret An Numan sub-districts to cover any possible gaps in water needs. One NGO is planning to provide water trucking sceptic tanks, hygiene kits and latrines, as well as carry out solid waste management, hygiene promotion and install water tanks, in five camps near Azmarin village near the Syrian – Turkish border.

The Shelter/NFI Cluster reported that out of the 40,900 beneficiaries assisted in December, some 16% were newly displaced people arriving from northern rural Hama and southern rural Idleb. One of the cluster’s members who had prepositioned 1,200 emergency NFI kits (for 7,200 individuals) previously, is currently in the process of distributing them. On 09 January, UNHCR will transship 2,000 NFI kits (for 10,000 individuals) inside Syria. The items are expected to be distributed to fill the gaps in the response. Additional 3,000 NFI emergency kits (for 18,000 individuals) from the HF contingency stock are expected to be delivered by the middle of January.

All clusters are meeting with their members and planning for a scaled up response has commenced.

For further information, please contact:
Trond Jensen, UNOCHA Turkey Head of Office, jensen8@un.org, Tel: (+90) 342 8602211, Cell (+90) 530 041 9152
Annette Hearns, UNOCHA Turkey Deputy Head of Office, hearns@un.org, Tel: (+90) 342 211 8604, Cell (+90) 535 021 9574

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs:

To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit http://unocha.org/.