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The conflict in Syria, about to enter its tenth year, has experienced fierce fighting in recent months as the Government of Syria tries to recapture the last opposition-held area.
Since the beginning of December, almost one million people have been displaced from their homes in north west Syria. Heavy bombardments and ground offensives by the Government of Syria and its allies have emptied entire towns. Huge numbers of civilians have fled north towards the Turkish border, to an area which already hosts over 3.6 million Syrian refugees.
The humanitarian situation has rapidly deteriorated due to the violence. The UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet recently expressed her “horror” at the scale of the humanitarian crisis. The UN rights office said it could see no justification for carrying out such “indiscriminate and inhumane attacks on an already hugely traumatised population”.
Women and children are disproportionately affected by the conflict. An estimated 80 percent of those who were recently displaced are women and children.
Camps for displaced people are overwhelmed and have been heavily affected by the adverse weather conditions during winter. The crisis is weakening people’s resilience and forcing them to the brink. Many of those fleeing are sleeping in their cars or are camping at the side of the road because they have nowhere else to go. Many of these people have already been displaced several times over throughout the Syria conflict over the last nine years.
Whoever hasn’t been displaced yet of our Women Now team in Saraqib are being forced to evacuate from their homes at this very moment. Their next destination is unknown and the massacre continues.
Graffiti on one of the city walls reads:Your fighter jets cannot bombard our dreams pic.twitter.com/3TmcdmVpAL
— WomenNow النساء الآن (@WomenNowForDev) January 28, 2020
The military operations have also led to the mass destruction of civilian infrastructure. A total of 88 civilian facilities were struck in January 2020 alone, including displacement camps, hospitals, schools, markets, bakeries, water and power plants, and places of worship.
Trócaire is responding to the humanitarian situation on the ground through local partner organisations. These local partners continue their work in the most dangerous of environments. They too have been directly impacted by the violence. One of our partner organisations has lost two of their women centres due to the bombardment. Staff have also been forced to evacuate from a number of villages.
Every morning we ask the women of our team inside Idlib how they’re doing, hoping to hear any good news. But it keeps getting worse. Yesterday they said: We have no words to say anymore. We’re exhausted.#SaveIdlib #WomenNow pic.twitter.com/QCyAIvCHMq
— WomenNow النساء الآن (@WomenNowForDev) January 20, 2020
A ceasefire announced in the last few days gives some hope, yet previous deals in the past have fallen through. As this crisis continues to unfold, the EU and Ireland need to do more. We need to welcome more refugees. We need to question why we have erected a wall against the hundreds of thousands fleeing this awful conflict. Governments need to increase humanitarian assistance to organisations like Trócaire that are responding to the crisis.
Trócaire has been responding to the crisis since the conflict began. We provide humanitarian assistance both in Syria and with refugees living in Lebanon. We have provided food, shelter, and basic household items (especially during the harsh winter months). Trauma from the conflict is also a huge issue, and we provide counselling and psychosocial support to affected families. We also support people with skills and vocational training to help them begin to rebuild their lives.
Trócaire stands in solidarity with the millions affected by the Syrian conflict and with our partners who are working tirelessly to serve those in need. We will continue our work on the Syria crisis and our work with refugees in Lebanon. As the crisis enters its tenth year this month, we will be there as long as needed.
This year, Trócaire’s Lent campaign will help to support women around the world who are struggling to protect their families from intimidation, violence, hunger and drought.