Situation In NW Syria “Dire” With 21 Civilians Killed

UNITED NATIONS, Feb 27 (NNN-XINHUA) – “The situation in Idlib is dire,” the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said, referring to the beleaguered governorate in northwest Syria, where at least 21 civilians were reported killed in the last 48 hours.

Airstrikes were reported in 19 communities and shelling in ten villages in Idlib and Hama, said Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres. Civilians continue to bear the brunt of hostilities.

At least 21 civilians, including five women and nine children, were reported killed by airstrikes, as well as, ground-based attacks, Dujarric said, adding, the most urgent need is for an immediate cease-fire and protection of civilians.

The airstrikes also damaged educational and medical facilities, including several that were serving as shelter for displaced people, he said. Idlib Central Hospital was among medical facilities reportedly damaged.

The world organisation continues to seek ways to expand the ongoing humanitarian response, including by expanding the capacity of cross-border relief mechanism, Dujarric said.

There are three million people in the conflict region, with more than 948,000 civilians estimated displaced since Dec 1, and about half of them women and children, he said earlier.

OCHA published online, on Wednesday, how its 2019 Humanitarian Response Plan for Syria is just 64 percent funded, with a shortfall of 1.8 billion U.S. dollars.– NNN-XINHUA