Thu, 25 Feb 2021

UNITED NATIONS, Jan. 21 (Xinhua) -- Heavy winter rains in northwestern Syria are hitting internally displaced persons (IDPs) camps hard, killing one person, injuring three others and destroying tents, UN humanitarians said on Thursday.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said 88 IDP sites have been affected, with almost 1,400 tents destroyed and another 2,700 tents damaged.

Heavy rainfalls have also hit IDPs elsewhere in the country, including in southern rural Tartous, where families are relocating, said OCHA.

Across Syria, an estimated one in three of the 6.7 million IDPs lives in inadequate shelters, including damaged, unfinished buildings and public buildings such as schools, the humanitarians said. Nearly 4 million people live in inadequate shelters in areas with high elevation and snowfall, including rural Damascus.

There have been ongoing efforts to meet needs brought on by winter, OCHA said in a release. As of Jan. 1, partners have been able to reach more than 1.6 million people across Syria with support, including over 250,000 people in the northeast, 850,000 in the northwest and almost 500,000 in government-held areas.

Much of northwestern Syria has served as a sanctuary -- interrupted by spasms of conflict -- from the nearly decade-long civil war.

Undersecretary-General Mark Lowcock, the chief UN humanitarian coordinator, said earlier this week many of the vulnerable families in Syria are unprepared for winter. There is a funding gap of 24.5 million U.S. dollars for winterization efforts, meaning almost 500,000 people may not get winter assistance.

Across Syria, adequate shelter, heating and fuel are in urgent need, OCHA said.

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