Shocking 200,000 people displaced in Syria in past month
Fighting in the past few weeks has seen a shocking 200,000 – more than half of whom are children – displaced as civilians flee the deadly bombings that have shut hundreds of schools and levelled homes and hospitals, Save the Children said.
More than 7,000 people on average are being displaced every single day, the NGO added, revealing that the figure was four times more than during the last phases of the Aleppo offensive.
As fighting closes in on all sides, Save the Children is expecting tens of thousands more to be forced north as they flee the violence.
Airstrikes continue to target civilian infrastructure, with seven schools and 12 health facilities shelled in recent weeks. The shelling has forced over 500 schools – more than a third of all schools in Idlib – to be closed.
The continuous shelling is one of the clearest indications that Moscow and Damascus have scrapped the Astana agreement, which set up so-called de-conflict zones in Syria.
Idlib is supposed to be covered by the local ceasefire agreement but has come under ferocious aerial assault by Russian and Syrian regime war planes over the past weeks.
|Multiple families are now routinely taking refuge in one home. Many others have nowhere to shelter even as temperatures drop to freezing at night. Some families have been displaced over and over again|
|Read also: Over 30 children killed in Eastern Ghouta in the first two weeks of 2018|
"What we are seeing is just horrifying and a clear indication that the Syria conflict is far from over and that millions more people remain trapped in a warzone where they are routinely bombed and shelled. All parties to the conflict continue to show utter contempt for children’s lives and wellbeing," said Sonia Khush, Save the Children’s Syria director.
"Multiple families are now routinely taking refuge in one home. Many others have nowhere to shelter even as temperatures drop to freezing at night. Some families have been displaced over and over again," Khush added.
"Worst of all, all these people are being pushed into an ever smaller and increasingly more overcrowded enclave with no real way out. There is not enough shelter, there is not enough food, water or medicine and the infrastructure is being eroded away day by day."
Bashar al-Assad's forces, backed by Russia, launched an offensive at the end of 2017 to capture the province of Idlib, the last remaining area still fully outside of the regime's control.
The northern province borders Turkey and is home to an estimated two million Syrians, including tens of thousands of civilians who fled fighting elsewhere.
Scores of civilians have been killed in the intensive air raids, while the rebels have lost ground with the regime capturing dozens of towns and villages. Regime forces, backed by Russian airstrikes, have captured nearly 100 villages from rebels since late October in Hama and Idlib provinces.
The main aim of the regime forces is to reach the rebel-held Abu Zuhour airbase and secure the road linking the capital, Damascus, with the northern city of Aleppo.
Rebels captured Abu Zuhour in 2015 after a three-year siege.
The Syrian conflict began when the Baath regime, in power since 1963 and led by Assad, responded with military force to peaceful protests demanding democratic reforms during the Arab Spring wave of uprisings, triggering an armed rebellion fuelled by mass defections from the Syrian army.
The brutal tactics pursued mainly by the regime, which have included the use of chemical weapons, sieges, mass executions and torture against civilians have led to war crimes investigations.