Save the Children prepares to scale up operations and warns of mass displacement of children

Save the Children, North East Syria, 10th October 

Save the Children warned today against an impending humanitarian disaster in North East Syria, where families and children have already started fleeing hostilities. The agency confirmed it was preparing to scale up its relief operations which have been continuous since 2014.

Alison Griffin, Save the Children’s Head of Conflict and Humanitarian Campaigns: “We are deeply concerned about the safety of thousands of children and their families who have been on the move overnight. Our priority is to ensure that the best interests of children are met, and that essential support is provided to them. Our teams are still present in the area and delivering our programmes, and we are preparing to scale up to meet the increased needs.”

Our teams in North East Syria reported hearing explosions throughout the night. 

“While the hostilities were largely localised to border areas, I saw families moving from major towns heading towards the outskirts further outside the border areas. People are afraid and cannot predict the extent of the military operations,” Jiwan, a Save the Children staff member in the North East said.  

“The cities and towns where we are are quiet this morning, but there is an air of anticipation in the community as people are unsure about what will happen next. We are hoping, for ourselves and the children, that the conflict will not extend to other major towns,” he added. 

Ms. Griffin continued: “The reports of civilian deaths, including those of two children, and several more injured are devastating. North East Syria is home to people who are all too familiar with the horrors of war. Many have been displaced more than once already. Imagine being a parent forced to bundle up your belongings and move your children in search of safety once again. With winter around the corner, families are worried for their lives and are thinking only of getting their children to somewhere safe and warm.”

In addition to the Syrian civilians in the North East, there are thousands of women and children living in camps across the area. Three of the camps are home to Syrian and Iraqi families along with more than 9,000 foreign children of more than 40 nationalities with perceived links to ISIS. They rely exclusively on humanitarian aid. So far, camps continue to operate but any disruption to aid services would place the lives of nearly 90,000 residents across the three camps at risk.

Save the Children had called on Monday on all parties to ensure that all children and their families across North East Syria are protected.

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