• Since 14 March, over 67,000 people have been displaced to north-western Syria and northern rural Aleppo from East Ghouta in Rural Damascus and the Al-Qadam neighbourhood in Damascus city, following agreements between the Government of Syria and the non-state armed groups. Those who moved continue to report their mental and physical exhaustion due to the experience of living under siege and bombardments for many years.
• The UN and humanitarian organizations face a funding gap of an estimated $100 million to provide life-saving assistance and services to the IDPs, who were displaced to northern Syria. This is in addition to the $95 million required to assist those who displaced to areas in rural Damascus, remain in areas of East Ghouta that recently shifted control including those who remained in Duma city.
• The Turkey Humanitarian Fund (THF), which has been an integral part of the humanitarian response 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.
• In their efforts to respond to the people displacing from East Ghouta and Al-Qadam, humanitarian organizations are using rapidly depleting available resources to provide emergency assistance and services. The reprioritization of activities to enable a crisis rapid response to the affected population draws resources away from addressing other critical needs.
The arrival of internally-displaced people (IDPs) from the communities in East Ghouta, which have come under agreements between the warring parties, to northern Syria continues. On 8 April, an agreement was reached in Duma city, the last non-state armed group held area in East Ghouta, after which several displacements to northern rural Aleppo took place. It is estimated that over 20,000 individuals in total were displaced from Duma city to north- western Syria and northern rural Aleppo, bringing the total number of IDPs who arrived in northern Syria from East Ghouta and Al-Qadam neighbourhood, between 14 March and 15 April, to over 67,000 individuals. As of 19 April, there are no further displacements from Eastern Ghouta expected. The UN expects further displacements in the near future to northern Syria from other locations controlled by Non-State Armed Groups where negotiations reportedly are happening.
The movement of IDPs from East Ghouta to northern Syria was reportedly arduous. Humanitarian organizations operating in northern Syria noted that the recently arrived civilians from East Ghouta reported being subjected to verbal and physical abuse during their transport to the north, particularly at checkpoints. On 14 April, it was reported that a bus transferring IDPs came under gunfire, while passing through the countryside of Homs governorate. The shooting reportedly resulted in the death of an eleven-year-old child.
In north-western Syria, overcrowding and lack of shelter availability remain a major concern. It is estimated that over 1.2 million IDPs are currently present in Idleb governorate, which marks a 25% increase from the data gathered in August 2017. And while NGO-run reception centers play a key role in providing temporary shelter and emergency assistance to the new arrivals, they are not designed as longer-term durable shelter options. It is expected that within days after arriving, people living at the reception centers begin to search for proper accommodation. Through its partners, the Shelter and NFI Cluster continues to map out available shelter options.
The unstable security environment in north-western Syria remains of concern to the newly-arrived IDPs, many of whom are exhausted from the experience of living under siege, aerial attacks, and bombardment for years. Airstrikes continue to be a regular occurrence, as does the infighting between the armed groups on the ground, which results in repeated disruptions to civilian life and service provision by humanitarian organizations on the ground. A prominent example of the impact of hostilities on service provision, is when several health organisations issued a statement on 16 April announcing that they were compelled to suspend non-emergency services, in response to the active fighting that took place in the vicinity of the National Hospital in Ma’arrat An Nu’man town on 15 April. In addition to the general insecurity affecting IDPs and host communities alike, anecdotal information indicates that IDPs from Duma city – particularly men in their twenties and thirties - are being stopped and harassed at Hayyat Tahrir Al-Sham checkpoints in the north-west.
In northern rural Aleppo, efforts are being made to identify additional shelter options for the new arrivals. Expansion work of the Duyuf Al-Sharqia IDP camp in Al-Bab town is ongoing, which will increase the capacity of the camp from 450 to 750 households. The camp is currently hosting 350 families. The CCCM Cluster reported that a camp was established in Al-Bil village, east of Azaz town, with a capacity of 550 tents and 32 containers for latrines and showers. All the tents are currently occupied by IDPs from East Ghouta. A second camp in the same village is being established, with a provisional capacity of 350 tents.
In their efforts to respond to the IDPs from East Ghouta and Al-Qadam neighbourhood, humanitarian organizations are using rapidly depleting available resources to provide emergency assistance and services to these new IDPs. The reprioritization to enable a crisis rapid response to the affected population draws resources away from addressing other critical needs.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.