*Posted on the IOM website the 03/17/2020*

Geneva – Violence continues to devastate the lives of Syrians as the conflict there enters its tenth year this week.  Since 2011, millions of people have been uprooted from their homes and entire cities destroyed, leaving much of the population without the most basic access to food, health care or education.

“The International Organization for Migration remains steadfast in its commitment to support the needs of Syrians in distress today and calls again for a long-term political and humanitarian solution that provides relief to all Syrians whose lives have been disrupted over the past nine years,” said IOM’s Director General, António Vitorino.

The recent intensification of violence in the northwest of the country has worsened the already dire displacement and shelter crisis facing millions. Idlib, a densely populated area at the epicentre of the most recent attacks, has seen almost one million Syrians displaced in the last three months alone.

Across Syria, 6.7 million people are internally displaced and a further 5.6 million refugees struggle to find safe places to live and opportunities for decent work in neighbouring countries. They all wait for the day they can resume their lives in peace.

Most of the displaced stay with host families, in camps or unfinished buildings. In Idlib, however, thousands are sleeping out in the open amid freezing winter temperatures with nowhere warm or safe to go. Hospitals, schools and sites housing displaced populations have been attacked in recent weeks.

Humanitarians working for IOM’s implementing partners risk their lives daily, and some have lost their lives as recently as two weeks ago.

“Our humanitarian partners on the ground relentlessly strive, oftentimes in great peril, to lessen the suffering of displaced populations. Tragically, levels of anguish and insecurity are on the rise, imploring all of us to do more in solidarity with first responders,” DG Vitorino continued.

The Organization is also increasingly concerned about the potentially devastating impact of the spread of the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) that could exacerbate the already strained humanitarian response. This is of concern in Idlib where airstrikes have destroyed numerous hospitals and clinics, and people are living in close quarters in overcrowded camps or public structures.

Across the country, 11 million people require humanitarian assistance – nearly half of whom are in acute need of services required for their basic survival.  This is compounded by a worsening economic crisis which has made food and other staples inaccessible to millions due to scarcity and currency devaluation.

IOM’s support to implementing partners operating inside the country has allowed more than 300,000 people to receive emergency items, shelter assistance, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services, and protection assistance since December 2019.

The Organization also continues to support countries and communities hosting Syrian refugees.  The governments and people of Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt have provided Syrians safety, protection, health and education.

“It is key to maintain and expand our support to the region at a time when host communities suffer from economic hardship,” Vitorino continued.

IOM also commends governments and communities around the world who have accepted and welcomed Syrian refugees through resettlement mechanisms, humanitarian admissions and other programmes. In June of last year, IOM assisted in the resettlement of the 100,000th refugee to depart from Lebanon since the start of the Syrian crisis.

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For more information, please contact Angela Wells, IOM Geneva, Tel: +41 7940 35365, Email: awells@iom.int