PRESS RELEASE - 20 FEBRUARY 2020
- Humanitarians in Idlib describe the reality of living and working in a warzone:
- ‘Thousands of families flee… carrying their pain with them.’
- ‘The camps are catastrophically crowded.’
- ‘Our doors and windows are shaken by the power of aircraft sounds and shells.’
- ShelterBox CEO Sanj Srikanthan calls for ‘governments worldwide to be held to account, to end the Syrian conflict now’.
The Chief Executive of disaster relief charity ShelterBox has today condemned the ‘moral failure on all sides to allow Syria to suffer on this scale’, as almost 1 million people have fled violence in the region since December.
The mass exodus is the biggest displacement of civilians since the Second World War.
Sanj Srikanthan said: ‘It is a moral failure on all sides to allow Syria to suffer on this scale. The great shame of the last decade is now entering a new level of human suffering. Governments worldwide must be held to account, to end the Syrian conflict now.’
Nour, a humanitarian worker in Idlib with ShelterBox’s partner ReliefAid, said last night: ‘The situation in Idlib is now crazy – thousands of families flee from one area to another to escape the bombing and death, carrying their pain with them.’ (Full story below.)
Another member of the team, Bana, added: ‘Our fear is great – we cannot sleep at night from the loud sounds and the flying. My daughter is always afraid and does not want to be away from me. The doors and windows are shaken by the power of aircraft sounds and shells.’
At displacement camps served by ShelterBox and ReliefAid, new arrivals are moving into old, abandoned or damaged tents, or having to share with others. Heavy rain and snow has brought flooding; tents battered by the elements are leaking.
Together the charities are providing families with tarpaulins and rope to reinforce their tents, plus mattresses, carpet and thermal blankets, kitchen sets and solar lights to help make the cold winter more bearable.
More than 250,000 people caught up in the Syrian civil war have already received ShelterBox aid, since the charity first responded to the crisis in December 2012. This makes it the largest and most sustained response in ShelterBox’s 20-year history. The need is as urgent as ever.
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Nour works for our partner ReliefAid, delivering emergency shelter and other essentials including cooking sets, mattresses and warm blankets.
I live close to the clashes.
The situation in Idlib is now crazy – thousands of families flee from one area to another to escape the bombing and death, carrying their pain with them. Many families could not escape and were killed; the roads are crowded with displaced people who do not know where to go.
One of the families I met said to me: ‘We were in our village and warplanes and canons started bombing houses and everything. We did not know what to do, because we could not escape because of the shelling and we could not stay. We waited until night and the shelling stopped and we ran away from the village quickly. We could not find a car to carry us, we walked on foot a long way until someone helped us. We left everything behind – our village, home, our dreams and everything close to us.’
The camps are catastrophically crowded. Many families share a single tent, and there is not enough aid provided by organisations due to the large numbers of displaced people. Families did not bring enough with them because they quickly came out to escape death.
Me, the team and our families are fine, but we live in constant tension. The situation is getting more difficult by the day. The shells are falling in all regions. Fear is widespread in the air.
The biggest fear is that the military operations will continue, because this will lead to a humanitarian catastrophe. The weather is cold and the children are living in a difficult situation, and I fear that the bombing will increase in the areas where the displaced people gather and this will lead to massacres.
I hope the world will know the catastrophic situation that people live in here, and help them in all ways.