Destruction and displacement resulting from attacks on Idlib are causing a humanitarian catastrophe

Istanbul, 23th December 2019 – Syrian Association for Citizens’ Dignity warns of the catastrophic consequences of the continuing attacks by Assad and Russian forces on civilians in Idlib, which are causing new waves of displacement and destruction.

The latest attacks which intensified on the 19th of December with a ground offensive, in which some 200 civilians were killed, including women and approximately 70 children, and hundreds were injured, and more than 150 000 were displaced, have put Idlib on the brink of a major humanitarian catastrophe due to absence of humanitarian aid and adequate infrastructure to receive more displaced people. The consequences of such collapse are bound to be felt in Turkey and beyond, including Europe.

Between February and the end of November of this year, the Russian military campaign in Idlib, with relentless and indiscriminate bombardment of civilian areas and ground attacks, has caused the displacement of over 700 000 new internally displaced people (IDPs) in an area that is already populated with displaced civilians from all over Syria. The current bombardment has initially targeted areas around the M4 and M5 highways, but extended to other areas in the eastern part of Idlib province to include more than 30 towns and villages.

The city of Ma’arat Al-Nouman is particularly targeted, with approximately 70,000 civilians besieged under heavy shelling and civilian vehicles fleeing the city targeted by Russian and regime forces airstrikes. Approximately 12,000 civilians fled Ma’arat Al-Nouman in the last few days. The gravity of the situation is exacerbating due to the outrageous and despicable systematic targeting of  civilian vehicles fleeing the bombing in Southern Idlib, specially Ma’arat Al-Nouman, by the Syrian regime and Russian forces.

 

“How can the displaced Syrians engage in any process in good faith if everyone we are talking to today, discussing solutions, and laws, and rights, are allowing the regime to annihilate us?” asks Fadi Nzhat, a SACD trustee from Damascus Province, who is currently displaced in Idlib.  “Who benefits from this, other than those intent on destruction and nihilism of Syrian people? What faith can children of Idlib ever have in any future solutions for Syria if brutal attacks against them are not stopped now?”

The Syrian Association for Citizens’ Dignity calls for immediate steps to be taken to prevent the catastrophic scenario driven by the latest offensive on Idlib:

 

  • Immediate ceasefire and cessation of attacks on civilians must be facilitated by the United Nations Special Envoy for Syria Geir Pedersen;
  • Immediate access to be allowed and secured for the Red Crescent and United Nations to deliver aid to the areas under attack;
  • Increased humanitarian aid to civilians in Idlib, including urgent and increased assistance to the people displaced since February by the Russian/regime offensive;
  • Concrete steps to be taken by the European Union, United States and Turkey on the diplomatic front to prevent use of indiscriminate force against civilians by Russia and the Assad regime, including the threat of further economic sanctions and other necessary measures.