The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is concerned by the further deterioration of the humanitarian situation in northwestern Syria. Since mid-October fighting has intensified in several areas in the northwestern Syrian governorates and this has led to unbearable humanitarian consequences for the civilian population there.

“In some areas in northwestern Syria, people currently live in a constant state of fear and uncertainty. Some of the basic services, like electricity, clean drinking water, access to health care and schools, have been disrupted. Every day, multiple reports speak about families desperately running for their lives in search for a safer place. This cannot go on,” said Fabrizio Carboni, the ICRC’s Geneva-based director for the Near and Middle East.

According to several reports, tens of thousands of people in southern Idlib had been forced to escape to a safer place, while many others are stuck, unable to leave their homes due to the ongoing fighting.

People are taking refuge in already overcrowded and overstretched shelters in Idlib and Aleppo governorates. And while some humanitarian organizations are present, the needs remain huge and increase every day, putting a lot of strains on the existing population in those shelters. The bitter winter poses further risk to those forced to flee. People in areas affected by the fighting or who decide to flee need access to medical care, clean drinking water and other basic services required for their survival.

The ICRC urges all warring parties to respect civilians and civilian infrastructure, to take all feasible precautionary measures to protect the latter as well as to allow those who wish to flee to do so in complete safety. Civilians and civilian objects are protected against direct attack. Indiscriminate attacks are prohibited. Hospitals, markets and schools must not be attacked. Mortars and rockets should not be indiscriminately fired into urban centres on either side of the front lines.

The ICRC, together with SARC, stands ready to increase its response to the humanitarian needs of the civilian population affected by the hostilities in northwestern Syria.

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