Syria aid groups make desperate plea for displaced civilians in Idlib: report

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PHOTO: Reuters

Syrian aid workers issued an urgent call for a ceasefire and international help for nearly a million people fleeing a regime onslaught in the country’s northwest on Wednesday, AFP reported.

It came as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan threatened to launch an operation in Syria by the end of the month unless Damascus ended its offensive in the last rebel stronghold of Idlib.

The Syrian army’s offensive, backed by Russian air power, has triggered the biggest wave of displaced civilians in the nine-year conflict.

At a press conference in İstanbul, the Syrian NGO Alliance said existing camps are overcrowded and civilians forced to sleep in the open as more than 900,000 people flee the violence.

“We are facing one of the worst protection crises and are dealing with a mass movement of IDPs [internally displaced persons] who have nowhere to go,” the Syrian NGO Alliance said in a statement.

They are “escaping in search of safety only to die from extreme weather conditions and lack of available resources,” it added.

The group said a total of $336 million was needed for basic food, water and shelter. Education resources were also needed for 280 million displaced school-aged children.

Turkey, which backs some rebel groups in Idlib, has been pushing for a renewed ceasefire in talks with Russia, eager to prevent another flood of refugees into its territory adding to the 3.7 million Syrian refugees it already hosts.

The Syrian NGOs called for the warring parties to allow safe access for humanitarian groups and for a “complete ceasefire and end to human rights violations”.

The regime offensive has killed more than 400 civilians since it began in December, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

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