The UN Secretary General, António Guterres, said that if a full scale battle took place, it “would unleash a humanitarian nightmare unlike any seen in the blood-soaked Syrian conflict.”
Such an assault would have a particularly devastating impact on the three million civilians, including one million children, who live in Idlib and the surrounding areas.
With more than two million people in need of humanitarian assistance, ensuring the protection of Idlib’s civilian population and their access to essential humanitarian aid must be guaranteed by all parties to the conflict.
Concern’s Regional Director for the Middle East, Brid Kennedy said: “Three out of every four people in Idlib have already been displaced, not once, but multiple times, placing an unbearable physical and psychological toll on the population. Life in Idlib today is characterised by extreme vulnerability and fear. There is nowhere left to run, nowhere left where they can be safe.”
Jan Egeland, Chair of the UN Task Force on Humanitarian Access in Syria, visited Ireland last Friday to speak at Concern’s 50th anniversary conference on conflict. Speaking on RTÉ news after the conference, the seasoned Norwegian diplomat reminded viewers that civilians continue to pay the price as war continues to escalate in Syria. Today, the UN reported that unprecedented levels of internal displacement – not seen throughout the seven-year conflict – took place in Syria in the last six months.
Concern’s Chief Executive, Dominic MacSorley, called on all parties to the conflict to respect international law and to allow aid agencies sustained unimpeded access to affected populations.
MacSorley said we must remind ourselves that there is a collective global obligation to ensure the protection of civilians in Idlib and to redouble efforts to find a diplomatic solution to the conflict.