Syria remains world’s largest displacement crisis: UN official

United Nations,(IANS) Syria remains the world’s largest and most dynamic displacement crisis, with half of Syrians displaced from their homes, a top UN humanitarian official has said.

On average, more than 6,500 people have been displaced every day in the first nine months of 2017, UN Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock told the Security Council on Wednesday, Xinhua reported.

In northeast Syria, as fighting continued down the Euphrates River toward the border with Iraq, airstrikes and clashes have displaced more than 436,000 people from and within Raqqa governorate since the anti-Islamic State offensive began a year ago.

Another 350,000 people have been displaced from and within the neighbouring governorate of Deir ez-Zor since August 2017, said Lowcock.

Nearly 3 million people continue to live in besieged and hard-to-reach areas in Syria, he said.

At least 420,000 people are living in 10 besieged areas, 94 per cent of whom are in the rebel-held enclave of East Ghouta near the capital city of Damascus.

The UN official expressed grave concern over the food crisis in East Ghouta as fighting continued. Only 100,000 people out of an estimated population of 400,000 in the enclave have received food assistance this year. And those people are only getting occasional one-off deliveries, he said.

Across the war-torn country, more than 13 million people urgently need humanitarian assistance and protection, 5.6 million of them are in acute need, he said.

Almost one school-age child in three is out of school; one-third of schools are damaged or destroyed; fewer than half of Syria’s health facilities are fully operational, leading to thousands of preventable deaths from injury or disease, said Lowcock.

Humanitarian deliveries continue to be impeded, particularly with regard to cross-line operations, he said.

Although assistance to areas under government control represents the majority of UN response, civilians in areas not under government control are reached in much larger numbers, with much greater consistency, and with much more comprehensive support through cross-border operations than through cross-line operations, said Lowcock.

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