Northwest Syria Situation Report #1
1-31 January 2020
Armed conflict in northwest Syria continues to impact heavily on civilians who have already endured nine years of crisis, violence, multiple displacements and economic downturn. According to OCHA, four million people live in northwest Syria, including 2.8 million in need of humanitarian assistance—some 80% of whom are women and children.
Since the escalation of armed conflict began in December 2019, the humanitarian situation has deteriorated dramatically in Idlib and Aleppo and indiscriminate attacks on civilians continue—resulting in massive population movements and an acute child protection crisis. According to the CCCM Cluster over 800,000 people—including more than 500,000 (60%) children—were displaced between 1 December and 9 February. Most have suffered from multiple displacements and are increasingly desperate, squeezed into an ever-smaller pocket of territory with no means of escape. Tens of thousands of children and their families are living in tents, public buildings and in the open air amid very cold weather and rains, with limited or non-existent access to basic services.
Since mid-January, Government of Syria (GoS) forces and their allies have advanced into southern and eastern Idlib and western Aleppo, taking full control of the strategic M5 highway, parts of the M4 highway and at least 100 villages and towns. As a result, some 350,000 people fled for urban centres and IDP camps in NW Idlib (such as Dana and Maaret Tamsrin) while tens of thousands more reportedly moved to areas such as Afrin, A’zaz and Al-Bab in northern Aleppo near the Turkish border. However, civilians remain unsafe in some destination areas, vulnerable to improvised explosive devices and other unexploded ordinances.
UNICEF, sister UN agencies and other humanitarian partners continue to provide life-saving humanitarian assistance to people in need in NWS (including newly accessible areas) despite the ongoing hostilities, access challenges and risks for front-line responders. Nevertheless, many partners have been forced to suspend their activities in southern Idlib and northern Hama and relocate to safer locations to the north.
Efforts are also ongoing to scale up activities across all sectors to reach and meet the rapidly growing needs of IDPs and host community populations. However, due to the rapid pace of continued displacement, combined with the already enormous needs on the ground, UNICEF urgently requires additional funding and support to reach the most vulnerable children and families in northwest Syria.