Amman, Jordan, October 15, 2019 — Three children have been killed and a further 11 injured since the military offensive began in northeast Syria.
Local organisations on the ground are reporting that 42 people have died and 123 have been wounded in the six days since the military operation started on October 9.
Misty Buswell, Middle East Policy Director at the International Rescue Committee, said:
“The situation in northeast Syria is deteriorating rapidly and we are hearing reports of multiple civilian casualties. In the past six days, 42 people have been killed – including three children – and the organisations we support on the ground are finding it more and more difficult to reach those in need.
“We have had to suspend all of our health facilities in the northeast because of the hostilities and uncertainty, but a Trauma Stabilization Point run by a local organisation has been hit by what we believe was an airstrike. Two of their ambulances have also been damaged, despite being clearly marked as humanitarian vehicles, and they are no longer able to reach Ras Al Ain – one of the cities near the border – because their ambulances are being attacked every time they try to get closer.
“Many hospitals have had to close and those that remain open are overwhelmed with casualties. We expect to see an increase in deaths from what are usually preventable diseases because of this, as there simply are not enough facilities to support those who have been displaced. Maternal mortality may also rise as it is increasingly difficult for women to gain access to the support they need.”
An estimated 200,000 people have been forced to flee their homes as a result of the ongoing military offensive – including at least 70,000 children.
Parties to the conflict must uphold their obligations under international humanitarian law to protect health facilities and other civilian infrastructure and ensure that civilians are spared from the worst impacts of the fighting.
An immediate ceasefire is urgently needed to de-escalate the situation and ensure that humanitarian aid can get to vulnerable populations.
If this offensive continues we may see more than 400,000 people fleeing their homes and life-saving humanitarian services even further put at risk.