Syria faces a fresh humanitarian catastrophe

Following claims that Syrian government forces are preparing an attack on Idlib, aid agencies SCIAF and its sister agency in England and Wales, CAFOD, have joined calls condemning an attack which would cause vast human suffering for the millions of civilians trapped in the region.

Seven years since the beginning of the Syrian conflict, government forces have reclaimed most of Syria but according to a UN estimate, the disputed region of Idlib holds three million people.

Ahead of talks in Astana, hosted by Iran this Friday, many voices within the international community are warning against attacking rebel-held Idlib province.

Alan Thomlinson, Emergency Programme Manager for the CAFOD and SCIAF Joint Programme for the Syria Crisis, also warns that an attack would undoubtedly risk many civilians’ lives. He said:

An attack on the Idlib province would risk many civilians’ lives, lead to further displacement of potentially hundreds of thousands of people and continue the suffering of the Syrian people who have already witnessed seven years of bloody conflict.

The situation in Idlib remains very complex – but respect for humanitarian law and the protection of civilians must remain paramount. The Syrian conflict and any lasting peace will only be achieved by a negotiated settlement.

This is the only way to prevent immense human suffering and ensure the safety and protection of civilians trapped in the region.

SCIAF and CAFOD have been working with a range of local partners in Syria, Lebanon and Jordan to help people affected by the conflict since 2012. Support provided includes shelters and rent for refugees, medical care, food, trauma counselling and help for refugee children to go to school.

PIC: Syrian refugees outside a shelter in Lebanon.