Northwestern Syria has recently experienced a series of relentless bombardments lasting for a duration of five days, conducted by Syrian regime forces. This marks the latest escalation of military activity in the region, leading to the displacement of thousands of individuals from their homes in search of safer environments.
On October 12th, a delegation from the United Nations undertook a visit to northwestern Syria with the primary objective of assessing the current situation and addressing the urgent needs of the displaced population. The United Nations delegation was under the leadership of Deputy Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Syrian Crisis, David Cardin. This mission included representatives from key organizations such as UNHCR, UNICEF, WHO, and the Department of Social Support Services. Their collaborative efforts aimed to provide emergency humanitarian assistance in the affected areas.
The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has issued a comprehensive report detailing the aftermath of the northwestern Syria bombings, the extensive damage incurred, and the United Nations’ response plan aimed at aiding those displaced by these events.
According to the report, the bombings affected a total of 1,400 sites in northwestern Syria, leading to the displacement of over 68,000 individuals from 91 different areas. The most significant influx of displaced persons hails from the districts of Jericho, Darat Azza, and Sarmin, as reported by the Camp Coordination and Management Group.
To date, 56,690 internally displaced persons (IDPs) have sought refuge in existing IDP sites and reception centers in Idleb and northern Aleppo.
Since the commencement of the military escalation on October 5, the affected areas have tragically witnessed the loss of 53 lives, including 11 women, 15 children, and three aid workers. Of these aid workers, two were associated with United Nations agencies and the Humanitarian Fund, operating on the Syrian border. An additional 303 people have sustained injuries, according to the health centers within the UN delegation.
The OCHA report underscores the urgent need for educational support for approximately 28,000 newly displaced children. Multiple schools and educational facilities have been adversely affected, leading to the suspension of classes in the region for a week due to security and life-saving concerns.
Moreover, the report highlights deliberate targeting, including dozens of educational facilities, five medical centers, numerous mosques, popular markets, and four White Helmets centers. This information was detailed in a report released by the White Helmets on October 10th.
What did the delegation offer?
In the latest update from OCHA, it was reported that cross-border aid operations have been ongoing, ensuring the delivery of essential assistance to northwest Syria. A total of 61 trucks have transported shelter materials, food, and other UN aid through two border crossings with Turkey, namely Bab al-Hawa and Bab al-Salama.
However, the report also highlighted a concerning funding shortfall for the Humanitarian Response Plan for Syria in 2023, as of October 13. This plan had yet to secure one-third of the required funding, despite having only three months left until the start of the new year.
Despite these funding challenges, the UN and its partners remain committed to addressing the escalating needs in northwest Syria. During their visit to the region, the UN delegation conducted interviews with 597 families to assess their most pressing requirements in the aftermath of the recent intense bombardments. According to the gathered responses, 96% of these families urgently needed alternative shelter, 50% had already relocated to safer areas, and 46% expressed a need for psychological support and mental health services.
To address these critical needs, protection partners offered relocation services to over 470 families, and 33 community centers were established as safe spaces for women and girls in northwest Syria. As of October 12, 846 families had benefited from non-food assistance, 807 families had received shelter support in the affected areas, and 300 affected families had been provided with cash assistance. Local authorities were actively monitored to ensure the situation’s ongoing assessment.
The UN delegation also played a pivotal role in providing immediate relief, including distributing bread and ready-to-eat meals to approximately 17,000 people in reception centers and camps located in Dana, Darkoush, Maarat Misrin, Armanaz, Atarib, Darat Azza, and Janoudiya.
In addition, more than 16,000 displaced individuals in 225 locations received water and sanitation support, with water deliveries by truck, along with the distribution of hygiene kits to 745 families, as documented in the OCHA report. Moreover, as of October 12, over 4,000 tents had been distributed to displaced families, along with 7,000 non-food kits and cash assistance to 300 families, further contributing to humanitarian efforts in the region.
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.