Hundreds of thousands of people are sleeping in the open in Idlib right now, without a roof over their heads or access to some of life’s essentials such as running water and toilets. Many women prefer to walk at least 20 minutes in the dark to relieve themselves in private rather than suffer the indignity of open latrines, which puts them at risk of being followed and harassed. Due to poor sanitation, 40,000 people have contracted tropical diseases.
It’s the worst humanitarian disaster Syria has seen in the last eight years, and as winter approaches, humanitarian workers are warning of a catastrophic disaster unless urgent action is taken now.
It started on April 26 when the Syrian regime, supported by Russian airpower, significantly increased its bombardment of Idlib, the largest remaining area outside its control. Homes, hospitals, and schools are being deliberately attacked with a ferocity we’ve rarely seen before. Entire towns and villages have been destroyed and emptied of their residents. More than 1,200 people have lost their lives. And as fragile ceasefires collapse and Russia uses its veto power to block Security Council resolutions aimed at stopping the bombs, the situation continues to deteriorate.
In the face of catastrophe the response of the international community has been truly shameful. The funding requested by the United Nations to scale up its humanitarian response has not been met by donor governments. The UN on its part is using the funding shortfall as an excuse not to respond with the urgency and nimbleness required. As a result, its aid operation in Syria continues to fail those who need it most.
On the ground, heroic humanitarian workers are confronted with difficult decisions on a daily basis, like whether to prioritize food or shelter or medicine or education or sanitation. They have paid a heavy price for their work, with many aid workers displaced more than once and targeted by many sides just because they are trying to save lives -- yet they continue to do all they can to respond to the crisis with the little support and resources they have.
They’ve made their choice, and they need our help.
It’s up to us to demand that the UN and donor governments immediately allocate funding to allow organizations on the ground to respond to the humanitarian disaster in Idlib. Sign the petition.
What is happening in Idlib is not just a humanitarian crisis, it’s a political one, made possible by the very international system that has allowed Assad and Putin to terrorize Syrians for years without any meaningful consequence.
Indeed, half of Idlib’s 3 million residents were displaced or forcibly evacuated from other areas in Syria that were recaptured by the regime using the same tactics being deployed in Idlib today. We will continue to do what we can to get the world’s powers to protect civilians and stop the bombs. But today, we urgently need to stand with Idlib’s displaced people and frontline humanitarians against bureaucracy, ineffectiveness, and “donor fatigue”. Add your name.