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A new catastrophe looms in Syria's dead of winter

Video Credit: Reuters Studio
Published on February 16, 2020 - Duration: 01:48s

A new catastrophe looms in Syria's dead of winter

The World Food Programme says more than 800,000 Syrians, mostly women and children, have fled their homes during a Russian-backed Syrian military campaign to clear the opposition in northwest Syria since December.

Emer McCarthy reports.

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A new catastrophe looms in Syria's dead of winter

Howling wind, freezing snow, and life in a makeshift camp in Syria.

It's unbearably hard.

Ten children have reportedly died of the conditions in the camps in the last week alone.

Aid workers fear that with the latest surge in fighting, another winter here is going to spur a new humanitarian catastrophe.

Mohamed is just one of 5.5 million refugees living in the Idlib region.

(SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) DISPLACED SYRIAN, MOHAMMD SHEHABALDIN, SAYING: "The situation here is very difficult, as you can see it's snowing and the temperature is below zero, you can see it all, the camps.

We're staying in a tent because rent costs 100 or 200 dollars." For perspective, earlier this week, two U.N.

Agencies said more people have fled fighting in Syria over the past 10 weeks than at any other time in the 9-year conflict.

Elisabeth Byrs is with the World Food Programme.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME (WFP) SPOKESWOMAN, ELISABETH BYRS, SAYING: "Heavy bombardment in the city of Atarib over the past couple of days spurred significant population displacement.

So far, airstrikes and armed clashes in northwest Syria have displaced over 800,000 people since December 2019, 80 percent of whom are women and children." Humanitarian group Save the Children said at least 290,000 children had been displaced from their homes.

Up to three million civilians are stuck between the advancing Syrian government troops and the closed-off border with Turkey, which already hosts 3.6 million Syrian refugees, and says it cannot take more.

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