Turkey | Syria: Situation in North-western Syria - Situation Report No.2 (as of 10 April 2018)
Since the middle of March, a total of 55,817 people displaced from Eastern Ghouta in Rural Damascus and the Al-Qadam neighbourhood in Damascus city to north-western Syria and northern rural Aleppo, following agreements between the Government of Syria and the non-state armed groups.
The UN and humanitarian organizations face an estimated funding gap of some $100 million, to provide lifesaving assistance and services to the IDPs who were displaced to northern Syria, in addition to the $74 million lacking and required to assist those who were displaced to areas in rural Damascus, remain in areas of East Ghouta that recently shifted control, and the people in need currently located in Duma city.
The existence of large concentrations of IDPs in the north-west continues to put a strain on the resources of humanitarian organizations and host communities. Estimates from February 2018 show the presence of over 1.2 million IDPs in Idleb governorate - an approximate 25% increase in the IDP population in Idleb governorate compared to eight months prior.
On 08 April, an agreement was reportedly reached in Duma city, where an estimated 78,000 – 150,000 individuals remain besieged, indicating that more displacement to northern Syria are likely to happen in the coming days.
The Turkey Humanitarian Fund (THF), which has been an integral part of the humanitarian response to emergencies over the past years, is almost depleted. Urgent support is needed to ensure that the THF is capable to fund humanitarian activities, when emergencies occur.
Since 14 March, 21 convoys of internally-displaced people (IDPs) left Eastern Ghouta in Rural Damascus governorate and Al-Qadam neighbourhood in Damascus governorate to northern Syria. Three convoys carrying a total of 1,351 IDPs from Al-Qadam neighbourhood arrived in north-western Syria between 14 and 15 March, and 15 convoys carrying an estimated 47,071 people from Eastern Ghouta arrived in north-western Syria (Idleb governorate and adjacent non-state armed groups held areas) between 23 March and 02 April. The Euphrates Shield areas in northern rural Aleppo received 7,395 people, mainly from Duma city, between 03 and 10 April. Humanitarian organizations operating in those areas received the IDPs at the entry points, and provided transportation to those, who wish to head to the NGO-run reception centres, as well as the alternative shelters (mosques, schools, unfinished buildings etc.)
While no further evacuations are expected from the parts of Eastern Ghouta, now under the Government of Syria control, (Arbin, Hezzeh, Kafar Batna, Zamalka and Jobar neighbourhood), it is likely that a number of civilians who were separated from their families and displaced to Government of Syria (GoS) held areas may seek to northern Syria to join loved ones who were displaced as a result of the agreements. This applies mostly to women, children, and men over the military conscription age who felt no risk in heading to GoS-held areas during the hostilities, while their family members – mostly fighters and men of conscription age - stayed and were later displaced to the north as part of an agreement.
Despite the efforts humanitarian organizations are exerting to meet the needs of the new arrivals, the humanitarian response in the north-west continues to face several challenges. The existence of large concentrations of IDPs in the north-west continues to put a strain on the resources of humanitarian organizations and host communities. Estimates from February 2018 indicated the presence of over 1.2 million IDPs in Idleb governorate, marking an approximate 25% increase in the IDP population in Idleb governorate compared to only eight months ago.
Prior to the Eastern Ghouta displacement, the Education Cluster reported overcrowding in classrooms as a major concern, with some classrooms hosting more than 50 students. The Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Cluster stated that water systems in the north-west are overloaded, with assessments conducted in north-western Syria prior to the Eastern Ghouta evacuations showing that 400,000 people have access to less than five litres of water per day. Funding for programs that focus on rehabilitating and expanding the capacity of the existing water systems has mostly stopped, with the current focus being on funding emergency water services, such as water trucking. In their efforts to respond to the IDPs from Eastern Ghouta, humanitarian organizations are using rapidly depleting available resources to provide emergency assistance and services to these new IDPs from Eastern Ghouta. The reprioritization to enable a crisis rapid response to the affected population draws resources away from addressing other critical needs.
In the Euphrates Shield areas in northern rural Aleppo, the limited presence of humanitarian organizations is a major hindrance to the provision of an adequate response. There are two NGO-run reception centres in Azaz and Al-Bab towns, which have received the IDPs from Duma city. Advocacy with the authorities to facilitate the entry of IDPs to the Euphrates Shield areas, increase humanitarian presence and allow unfettered access for humanitarian organizations is ongoing.
In Duma city, local media reported that a reconciliation agreement between both sides was reached on 08 April. The terms of the agreement are similar to those reached in other previously NSAG-held areas and is likely to include the displacement of scores of fighters and civilians to the Euphrates Shield areas in northern rural Aleppo. Although no estimates regarding the numbers of people that will be displaced to northern Syria are available, initial reports indicate that the agreement reached might result in the displacement of 48,000 people.
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