Intended for healthcare professionals


Humanitarian catastrophe for civilians in northwest Syria

BMJ 2020; 368 doi: (Published 06 February 2020) Cite this as: BMJ 2020;368:m451
  1. Aula Abbara1,
  2. Diana Rayes, researcher2,
  3. Munzer Khalil, director3,
  4. Mazen Kewara, country office director4,
  5. Ahmad Tarakji, board member5
  1. 1Department in Infection, Imperial College, London, UK
  2. 2Syria Public Health Network, London, UK
  3. 3Idlib Health Directorate. Gaziantep, Turkey
  4. 4Syrian American Medical Society, Gaziantep, Turkey
  5. 5Syrian American Medical Society, Washington, DC, USA
  1. Correspondence to: A Abbara a.abbara15{at}

Nearly 2.7 million people urgently need food and water, shelter, sanitation, and healthcare

A humanitarian catastrophe is escalating in northwest Syria. Since mid-December 2019, a military operation led by the Syrian government and its allies has forcibly displaced more than 350 000 civilians from the southern district of Ma’arrat al-Nu’man in Idlib governorate towards the Syrian-Turkish border.1 The most recent forced displacement to the north of the governorate comes soon after the displacement of nearly 400 000 people between April and August 2019 into Idlib from across Syria, exacerbating overcrowding and shortages in humanitarian and healthcare provision (fig 1).12

Fig 1

Idlib governorate with arrows showing displacement away from south of the governorate to northwestern Idlib and northern parts of Aleppo governorate

In an area of nearly 6000 km2, Idlib governorate hosts more than three million people (70% of them women and children), more than half of whom …

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