UN: Harsh winter takes toll on 800,000 displaced in Syria onslaught



  More than 800,000 people have been displaced in north-western Syria since December amid dire conditions due to an ongoing government campaign in the last rebel stronghold in the country, according to the UN.

“Women and children – who are 81 per cent of the newly displaced people – are again among those who suffer most,” the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) added in a report released on Thursday.

The agency warned that problems for those displaced are exacerbated by harsh winter weather.

On Tuesday, five people died due to the cold, according to OCHA.

“Shelter is the most urgent nee, as millions of people have been pushed into small areas not equipped to support that many people, especially during the cold winter,” the report said.

Some 36 per cent of the newly-displaced people are staying in rented houses or with host families, while 17 per cent moved to camps, OCHA said, citing a relief group, The Global Camp Coordination and Camp Management Cluster.

It added that a further 12 per cent of those newly displaced are reported to be sheltering in individual tents, while 15 per cent seek cover in unfinished buildings.

“Some 82,000 people are reportedly in open areas, including under trees,” the OCHA report said.

In late April, the Syrian government and allied Russians launched a large-scale campaign to seize the region from rebels.

Russia and Turkey brokered a ceasefire in the region in January. The truce collapsed as the Syrian army and allied forces have made advances in the province.

Edited By: Fatima Sule/Tajudeen Atitebi

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