Nowhere to flee: Stop attacks against civilians, hospitals, and humanity in Idlib now

Nowhere to flee: Stop attacks against civilians, hospitals, and humanity in Idlib now

9. 2. 2018
Do you remember the final days in eastern Aleppo? The world watched live as 250,000 civilians under siege were bombed day and night and the use of “bunker-busting” bombs and chemical weapons was normalised. The world watched as hospitals, homes and markets were bombed daily in air raids and “double-tap” strikes — a tactic designed to hit those who come to search for and rescue the injured. Hungry people hid in basements writing their final goodbyes to family, friends and the online community.

At that time the world said “Never Again”. But today, one year on, similar atrocities are happening just 60 kilometres away in Idlib province, a so-called “de-escalation zone”. There are only three differences:

• The world is not watching

• The Idlib area is like one huge displacement camp (Of the 2.5 million people currently in Idlib, at least 1.1 million are displaced children, women and men)

• No-one was calling Aleppo a “de-escalation zone”

People in Need (PIN) was providing support in eastern Aleppo and we are doing the same in Idlib now. “We see violations of International Humanitarian Law on a daily basis in Idlib. This is unfortunately not new. What is new is that the intensifying suffering is failing to even reach the attention of international media outlets and decision makers,” says Tomas Kocian, PIN’s Regional Director for the Middle East. “People have lost everything — and many no longer have money for food as they’ve had to spend all of their savings trying to flee: renting a car, buying a tent or paying to rent land. People in Need’s team on the ground is working tirelessly to help those we can but it is a haemorrhaging situation which cannot be addressed by humanitarian supplies alone,” he adds.

This week, we have witnessed multiple attacks against hospitals across Idlib. Newborn, incubated babies were evacuated from Al-Ma’ara National Hospital on Sunday amidst the rubble. During this conflict there was a time when incubated babies were not a military target, but it is a fading memory.

Fawza, a woman from Hama province, recently walked through the night with her injured husband seeking refuge in Idlib. They had just lost their child in an airstrike but there was no time to grieve. “We had to walk all night to reach a safer area,” says Fawza. “We stayed in a camp for a couple of days. Then, we had to move further north to escape the fighting again,” she adds.

“We stayed in a camp for a couple of days. Then, we had to move further north to escape the fighting again.”

For people like Fawza, continuously moving from one place to another is the only way to survive, but it offers no guarantee. Seven years on, warring parties continue to use civilian areas as a battleground and children and humanitarians are targets. For the millions of people living in the Idlib area under aerial bombardment there is nowhere to go. Movement elsewhere is impossible as pro-Government forces close in and the border with Turkey remains impassable to refugees.

There are radical militant groups in Idlib but there are many more civilian children, women and men without weapons who are simply trying to survive. Now, these civilians are trapped in tents and overcrowded homes being pummelled from the sky as temperatures drop close to zero. Give them space to grieve what they have already lost — STOP THE FIGHTING NOW.

For more information get in touch with:

Tomas Kocian, PIN Regional Director for Middle East, +420 777 787 970

Author: People in need