The ongoing offensive in Idlib has displaced almost 900,000 people since December. In response to this growing humanitarian crisis, the EU has called for an immediate ceasefire.
The European Union called for an end to the violence in Idlib, condemning the Syrian Government’s Russian-backed offensive on the province and warning of a humanitarian disaster.
“The renewed military offensive in Idlib by the Syrian regime and its backers, causing enormous human suffering, is unacceptable,” said the EU Council, which represents the EU’s 27 member states, in a statement.
The statement was released on Thursday following the EU budget summit and also pressed on all sides to “fully respect their obligations under international humanitarian law and international human rights law and to allow unimpeded and direct humanitarian access to all those in need.”
According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in its latest “flash update” on the situation in Idlib, 900,000 people have been displaced since fighting broke out in Idlib in December.
The displacement figures have exceeded “worst case planning figures by the humanitarian community”, with the frontlines “rapidly moving closer to densely populated areas”.
OCHA also stated that 330,000 of the 900,000 people displaced have fled to areas in parts of Opposition-held northern Aleppo Province, including Afrin, Azaz and al-Bab, while 1,040 people moved from Idlib to Government-held areas.
OCHA also warned about the “indiscriminate attacks in civilian areas”, as well as the harsh winter conditions facing those displaced. 170,000 of those displaced are believed to be in open or unfinished buildings, while 284,000 are residing in camps that are “already over-stretched beyond capacity or in makeshift camps”.
The EU’s statement comes amidst a phone call between French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday evening, with the European leaders expressing their willingness to facilitate a meeting between Russia and Turkey.
Macron and Merkel later held a call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday, in which the latter called for “concrete action” to stop the fighting in Idlib.
Erdogan and Putin were scheduled to have held at a phone call today at 3pm GMT, although no readout from their discussion has yet been published.