A group of displaced Syrians sit in an underground shelter in the Taltouna village, 17kilometers northwest of the city of Idlib, Syria, | Photo: EPA/Yahya Nemah
A group of displaced Syrians sit in an underground shelter in the Taltouna village, 17kilometers northwest of the city of Idlib, Syria, | Photo: EPA/Yahya Nemah

The Red Cross has released a statement saying that it is "deeply alarmed" by the living conditions of hundreds of thousands of displaced civilians in the Idlib province in Syria.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on Tuesday urged "the parties involved" in the Idlib province in northwestern Syria to "allow civilians to move to safety, either within the areas they control or across the front lines." The organization also asked for safe access to the region, saying that it wants to try to provide aid there. 

The humanitarian situation is rapidly deteriorating in Idlib due to the fighting in the region, the Red Cross said. Hundreds of thousands of civilians have been displaced. 

'Worst displacement seen in Syrian conflict' 

"This is the worst wave of displacement we've seen during the Syrian conflict. Amid the harsh winter conditions in Idlib, we see people trapped, isolated and running out of ways to cope. It's completely unacceptable," said Fabrizio Carboni, the ICRC's Geneva-based director for the Near and Middle East. 

The Red Cross underscored that the deterioration in access to "medical care and essential supplies for civilians in the Idlib area creates life-threatening situations that have already led to preventable deaths. Reduced access to health care, poor living conditions and difficulties moving locations are among the major humanitarian consequences of the Idlib hostilities." 

"Vulnerable groups such as the elderly and the disabled have been hit particularly hard by the lack of essential goods and services. Infants deprived of essential nutrients for healthy growth can suffer life-long consequences. The daily reality of cold, wet and snowy weather is compounding the conditions that create serious harm," the ICRC statement said. 

Displaced persons are in danger

The Red Cross said that if "civilians must flee for safety reasons, all possible measures must be taken to ensure that members of the same family are not separated and that everyone is relocated under satisfactory conditions of shelter, hygiene, health, safety, and nutrition." 

"With the ongoing fighting and shifting frontlines, access for humanitarian workers/volunteers is challenging and risky. However, if the situation allows, the ICRC together with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) reiterates their readiness to increase their humanitarian response. We urge all parties to provide us with access and security guarantees, so they can adequately respond to the needs of people on both sides of the frontlines," it added.
 

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