Bombing and shelling of Syria's provinces of Idlib and Hama in the past three months have forced more than 450,000 people to flee their homes for the Turkish borders, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) announced yesterday, adding that the aggression has led left hundreds dead and thousands injured.
"The violence has escalated over the past month, leading to more people killed or wounded than at any time so far this year," the Geneva-based organisation said, explaining that most of the displaced people needed humanitarian assistance.
Most of the newly displaced people, MSF pointed out, had headed for "densely-populated areas," adding that they were living in tents or out in the open under olive trees.
"Hundreds of thousands of displaced people are living in appalling conditions," MSF's operations coordinator for programs in Syria, Lorena Bilbao, said, noting that most of the settlements were "overcrowded with inadequate infrastructure, unhygienic living conditions, and at severe risk of disease outbreaks."
"If people do not have clean water to drink, we can expect more patients with dehydration, diarrhoea, and waterborne diseases in the coming weeks," Bilbao warned, stressing that the current situation in Syrian was "deteriorating."
At least 450 civilians have been killed since the offensive – carried out by the Syrian regime and its principal international ally, Russia – began in April.
Turkey and Russia agreed on last September, to turn Idlib into a de-escalation zone where acts of aggression are expressly prohibited.
The Syrian regime and its allies, however, have consistently broken the terms of the cease-fire, launching frequent attacks inside the de-escalation zone.
Syria has only just begun to emerge from a devastating conflict that began in early 2011 when the Bashar al-Assad regime cracked down on demonstrators with unexpected severity.