Aid & Development

Idlib: Relief agencies end their activities in escalation zones


Military clashes in the Greater Idlib region between the Syrian regime and the rebels are continuing, forcing humanitarian organisations to suspend their work.

A number of non-governmental international aid organisations have announced the suspension of their activities as the security situation in the Greater Idlib region continues to deteriorate amid the Syrian regime advance into rebel-held areas.

One of the most prominent organisations to pull out of Idlib is the World Food Programme (WFP), which was providing “deliveries to about 47,000 people in towns and villages”. Aid delivered by the WFP used to enter through the border with Turkey to the north. Some aid is still trickling through the northern areas of Syria, however the southern parts of Idlib Province and the northern areas of Hama Province are now void of humanitarian organisations. The spokesperson for the WFP, Herve Verhoosel, recently came out with a statement calling on the sides in conflict to abide by the Russian-Turkish de-escalation agreement and to protect civilians on the ground.

Some organisations have been experienced the brunt of the violence as their premises have been damaged as a result of the military clashes. In addition, a number of deaths among employees working for humanitarian agencies in the Idlib region have been reported. For instance, on 5 May the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that five health workers were killed as a result of strikes that hit two hospitals.

Local Syrians have been left exasperated by the withdrawal of humanitarian organisations and their aid from the Idlib region as they have been left with little to live off as the aid had provided them with a lifeline. The period of heightened military conflict and frequent displacement is the time when civilians are most vulnerable and in need of humanitarian aid.

Local sources from the Idlib region have stated that the Syrian regime has targeted health facilities and civilian-populated areas, leading to mass displacement, civilian deaths, and the eventual withdrawal of humanitarian agencies.