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Syria facing 'humanitarian crisis' as winter approaches

Dec. 4, 2015 9:37 P.M. (Updated: Dec. 5, 2015 5:43 P.M.)
Residents of Syria's besieged Yarmouk refugee camp gather to collect food aid in the adjacent Jazira neighborhood on Feb. 13, 2015. (AFP/Rami al-Sayed, File)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- More than 12 million people in Syria -- nearly half of whom are children -- are in need of immediate humanitarian assistance before winter sets into the war-torn country, an international aid group said Friday.

Robert Mardini, regional director for the Middle East at the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), said in a statement that after nearly five years of conflict, Syrians lack even basic resources, as temperatures are starting to fall below freezing.

"The humanitarian situation in Syria is catastrophic and deteriorating day by day,” Mardini said.

“The people are facing a bitter winter ahead and they have very few resources...the situation is nothing short of critical for many, many people," Mr Mardini continued.

ICRC is one of many humanitarian organizations in the country that have been unable to deliver aid to the most vulnerable due to destroyed infrastructure and security risks.

Meanwhile, the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) said earlier this week that around a third of its facilities inside Syria have been “rendered inoperable due to damage or active conflict.”

UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krahenbuhl warned of the risks that the refugees will face in months to come.

“Palestine refugees face great uncertainty, with many of them lacking adequate shelter and struggling to meet their minimum food needs,” Krahenbuhl said in a statement.

“These realities will only become more unbearable as they brace themselves for the harsh winter conditions," he added.

Around 100,000 Palestinians have been among the over four million people to flee Syria since the start of the fighting in 2011.

Many of those who fled have attempted to cross to Europe by both land and sea, as well as to neighboring countries, despite the denial of rights granted to other refugees that decrease chances for Palestinian refugees to gain access into other countries.

The 450,000 Palestinians who have remained in Syria, meanwhile, have come under repeated attacks and sieges making it nearly impossible for UNWRA to deliver the population basic necessities, Krahenbuhl added.
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