There are immense humanitarian needs in North West Syria, including Idlib province; these are further increased by COVID-19. Of almost 1 million people displaced in North West Syria since 1 December 2019, some 135,000 people have returned to their areas of origin or previous displacement. The most urgent needs continue to be shelter, water, sanitation and hygiene, food, and protection.
To date, there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in North West Syria. We assess that secondary effects of the pandemic will intensify needs and hinder response efforts. The UN’s response plan in the North West is now estimated at $162 million, with efforts focusing on preparedness and planning to minimise the potential impact of the virus on communities in addition to the existing crisis response. The World Health Organisation has warned of an impending ‘explosion’ of cases in Syria and we expect a significant outbreak that will be difficult for the health system to manage after years of conflict. Some of the highest risks are in IDP camps and conflict areas, including Idlib province.
The UK is monitoring the situation closely and DFID is working with the UN and our humanitarian partners in Syria to ensure we are able to actively respond to the outbreak and sustain life-saving services during this pandemic.