As the world marks nine years of war in Syria, the humanitarian situation remains on a knife’s edge following months of daily and nightly attacks that have forced almost a million people to flee their homes.
Idlib governorate, in Syria’s north west, was once viewed as a safe haven by those fleeing other parts of the country. However, it has come under growing attack in recent months as the war intensifies.
As a result, more than 2.7 million people in Idlib are in desperate need of humanitarian support, while 970,000 people have fled their homes, including more than half a million children.
This is the single largest displacement of civilians during the entire Syrian war.
Save the Children Australia CEO Paul Ronalds said that while the world faces growing threats like Coronavirus, it cannot allow us to overlook the suffering in Syria.
“Every single child in Syria under nine years of age has known only of a life war. They’ve had their childhoods ripped away,” Mr Ronalds said.
“While it might not be in the news headlines every day, the humanitarian situation in Syria is catastrophic. Those in Idlib face unimaginable suffering and are in desperate need of help. We cannot turn a blind eye and allow this to continue.”
This year alone more than 80 children have been killed in the war. At least seven children – including one baby only seven months old – died from freezing temperatures and horrific living conditions in camps. Two sisters, aged four and three, died when their tent burned down because their heater was unsafe.
Syrian-Australian advocate Omar Al-Kassab, who fled Syria back in 2013 after being shot and tortured, said:
“Families have been faced with the horrific decision to either stay in their homes and risk being killed by airstrikes, or to flee into the snow-covered hills and fields in hope of finding shelter and safety.
“Right now tens of thousands of people in Idlib are living under trees, in open spaces or in unfinished buildings. None of them have enough of any of life’s basic essentials like food, water and warm clothes. The situation is critical and we must do more to help.”
Since December, 72 hospitals, health facilities, and mobile clinics have shut down in Idlib and neighbouring Aleppo.
Mr Ronalds said: “At a political level, we are calling on warring parties to uphold the recently agreed ceasefire. That’s the only way children in Idlib and across Syria will have the chance of a future.
“At the same time, we are urging governments and the public to help fund the humanitarian response so organisations like Save the Children can provide life-saving support to children and families in Idlib.
“We must not forget about the children of Syria, who have already lost so much.”
Save the Children, working through partner organisations in north west Syria, is providing families with the basics needed to survive including food, warm clothes, cash grants, hygiene kits and plastic sheeting, rope and tools to build temporary shelters. It is also providing essential health, education and child protection services.
In the coming weeks the organisation will scale up its response including setting up mobile health clinics, providing vaccinations and trucking safe water to families who need it.
Across Syria, since the start of the conflict Save the Children has reached over 3 million people, including 2 million children.
Donate to Save the Children’s Syria appeal.
For media inquiries contact Evan Schuurman on 0406 117 937.