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Statement on the events taking place in Northwestern Syria

CAIRO – UNFPA is gravely alarmed about the current humanitarian situation unfolding in northwestern Syria, where hostilities have continued to cause mass displacements and damage to civilian facilities. To date, 900,000 people are estimated to have been displaced, 80 percent of whom are women and children.

UNFPA’s operations in northwest Syria have suffered a significant impact as a result of the hostilities. Since December 2019, UNFPA has had to close 7 service delivery points serving 13,000 people. In the last three weeks alone, two health centers and two mobile clinics, serving around 6,000 people on a monthly basis, have had to cease operations, while three women and girls’ safe spaces that provide life-saving services to women and girls in the area, have been suspended. Tragically, a student of a UNFPA-supported midwifery/nursery training course lost her life in these latest attacks.

Women and girls of Syria are bearing the brunt of this crisis, as there are disruptions in quality reproductive health care and an escalating risk of gender-based violence. Women and girls in Syria have repeatedly stated that they seldom feel safe due to the risk of gender-based violence, emphasizing the necessity of delivering consistent, quality services to survivors.

As a result of these displacements, people in need are living in unsafe locations, whether in tents or in open spaces. In some instances, up to 20 to 30 people are living together in unfinished buildings, which is creating privacy and protection concerns for women and girls and has reportedly resulted in a number of rape incidents. There are reports of pregnant women being unable to receive essential medical care, including assisted deliveries and cesarean sections due to lack of access to medical facilities.

The mass displacement, coupled with the disruption in services due to the damage wrought on service delivery centers, places the lives of countless women and girls at risk, further disrupting the ability of the humanitarian community to deliver much-needed services. This suffering is not acceptable. The targeting of civilian populations must stop. All parties must respect, and ensure respect for, international humanitarian law. Civilians and civilian facilities must be protected against all forms of violence at all times and all parties must allow free and secure access to humanitarian aid and basic services.

For Media Inquiries:

Samir Aldarabi, UNFPA Regional Communication Adviser for the Arab States

Mobile: 00201068484879 email: aldarabi@unfpa.org

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