New Year, New Crisis

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Syria is once again, submerged in chaos since the latest US withdrawal of its troops and consequent Turkish incursion through Syria’s northern border. A new chain of events has further destabilized the situation in the country and will continue to do so as we enter the new decade.

A recent de-escalation agreement sponsored by Turkey and Assad’s ally Russia has been overlooked and a new humanitarian crisis is unfolding in the Syrian north-western region of Idlib. Syrian and Russian forces have been indiscriminately bombing the final major opposition-held bastion of Syria since mid-December. Barrel bombs and air strikes have been hitting civilian structures in Idlib aiming to force civilians  and rebel forces out, and gaining control of the area.

The deadly bombings have killed dozens and forced 235,000 people to flee parts of Idlib province towards other parts of the country, creating a new refugee crisis. Idlib is home to an estimated 3 million people, many of them who are already refugees displaced from other areas of the country during the nine years of violence.

Refugee camps are already overcrowded so people are living in the open, struggling to find food, shelter and medicine. Schools and hospitals have been targeted, making it impossible to satisfy basic human needs such as education or healthcare.

Aid agencies warn that the situation is untenable, but Assad insists that the civil war will not be over until Damascus retakes ‘every inch’ of Syria. Regaining control of the Idlib territory would allow Assad to control the whole country. So as government forces move forward and bombings intensify, civilians flee up north to the Syrian-Turkish border, creating further security and humanitarian issues – so an end to the conflict would yet be very unlikely.

Civilians have been completely abandoned as the international community and its most powerful nations have turned their backs to the war-torn country. China and Russia have vetoed a UN Security Council Resolution that would have allowed more humanitarian aid flowing into Idlib. What is left to do is to condemn the situation through Twitter posts, but world leaders are running out of words of condemnation while the situation worsens every day.

This passivity of the international community towards the Syrian conflict is at the expense of thousands of Syrians who have been abandoned. If after 9 years of conflict, what seems to be one of the worst humanitarian crises the country has seen is not enough for the international community to act – then what is?

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