Situation in NW Syria dire with 21 civilians killed: UN

United Nations


 The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has said that the the situation in Idlib was dire, referring to the beleaguered governorate in northwest Syria where at least 21 civilians reported killed in the last 48 hours.

Airstrikes were reported on Tuesday in 19 communities and shelling in 10 villages in Idlib and Hama, Xinhua news agency quoted Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, as saying on Wednesday.

The victims, including five women and nine children, were reported killed by airstrikes as well as ground-based attacks, Dujarric said, adding that the most urgent need is for an immediate ceasefire and protection of civilians.

The airstrikes also damaged educational and medical facilities, including several that were serving as shelter for displaced people, he said. Idlib Central Hospital was among medical facilities reportedly damaged on Tuesday.

The world organization continues to seek ways to expand the ongoing humanitarian response, including by expanding the capacity of cross-border relief mechanism, Dujarric said.

Earlier this week he said humanitarian workers were striving to hike the number of aid trucks allowed over the border from Turkey into northwest Syria from 50 to up to 100 trucks per day.

But that objective has not yet been reached.

The spokesman said needs on the ground continue to outstrip the humanitarian community's capacity to respond.

There are 3 million people in the conflict region, with more than 948,000 civilians estimated displaced since Dec. 1 and about half of them women and children, he said earlier.

OCHA revealed on Wednesday how its 2019 Humanitarian Response Plan for Syria is just 64 per cent funded, with a shortfall of $1.8 billion.IANS