CARE mobilizing aid as civilians flee advancing military, airstrikes in north and south Syria
Feb 10, 2016
AMMAN: The international aid agency, CARE, is mobilizing additional supplies to assist civilians trapped in the on-going conflict in Syria, which has escalated in recent weeks with military advances on major centers held by opposition forces.
More than 30,000 people have fled violent conflict around Aleppo in the north, many of whom are now trapped near the Turkish border, unable to cross. The UN estimates up to 80 percent of the displaced are women and children. In the south of Syria, at least 90,000 have been forced to flee as Syrian forces lay siege to cities and towns across Dara’a governorate.
“We’re alarmed about the mass population being forced from their homes in the south, in the recent advance by Syrian forces and Russian airstrikes,” said Richard Hamilton, CARE Regional Syria Response Director, from Amman.
CARE has prepositioned materials ready to mobilize, particularly in the south. In Dara’a and Quneitra governorates, CARE is working with partners to deliver emergency supplies to more than 30,000 people. “Currently, hygiene and shelter kits are our priority, but we’re ramping up activities to ensure collective centers across the south have access to water and proper sanitation,” Hamilton reported. The agency, through partners, is also setting up water distribution points in camps and collective centres.
“We’re worried for these people as there is no place left to flee. The few remaining host communities are saturated with displaced persons and are also under threat of being bombed,” explained Hamilton. “This is coupled with the far bigger impact of Russian-led airstrikes compared to earlier bombing which means that the coping strategies of vulnerable communities are failing.” CARE has been active in developing livelihoods programming in Syria, as the organization saw opportunities to help build local economies through support to the private sector and agricultural sector.
“While we see peaks in airstrikes and clashes, it hasn’t been the situation all of the time across the south. People are trying to live their lives, but they need day to day support, beyond basic human assistance. The current situation, of course, has made even that untenable,” Hamilton added.
In Turkey, CARE is working to mobilize aid for Syrians who may eventually cross into Turkey, if authorities open the border, which is currently closed. CARE has been responding to refugees in southern Turkey since the influx of refugees from Kobane in the fall of 2014. Syrians fleeing violence in the south are also trapped, with Jordanian borders also closed. CARE is working through partners in Syria to assist neighboring host communities where families have fled.
“This must not be allowed to continue,” reiterated Hamilton. “Only last week, countries were positively pledging to assist with billions of dollars in aid, meanwhile, however, peace talks began then almost immediately faltered. The priority, the imperative, must be an end to the military onslaught on civilian lives. Hospitals continue to be struck, infrastructure destroyed, families have no hope but to run for their lives. All of the aid in the world can’t fix this. We need at the very least an immediate and full ceasefire.”
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