Syrian displaced live in 'disaster' conditions, UN says

Heavy snow is worsening living conditions of three million people in Syria

A camp for internally displaced people is covered in snow near the town of Azaz in Syria's Aleppo province, on January 23. AFP

Many of Syria's nearly three million displaced people face dire winter conditions with a severe snowstorm over the region, the UN said on Monday as it urged the international community do more to protect them.

"No one should live in these conditions," said Mark Cutts, UN deputy regional humanitarian co-ordinator for the Syria crisis, calling the situation "absolutely unacceptable".

"We are extremely concerned" about the 2.8 million displaced people in the region, he said.

The latest storm has piled misery on war-ravaged Syria's northern refugee camps, where most of the displaced are living in tents, many of which are collapsing under the weight of snow.

Other areas are enduring heavy rain or freezing temperatures.

"It's a real disaster zone," Mr Cutts said.

Last year the UN requested more than $4 billion for humanitarian aid in Syria but collected only 45 per cent of the amount, he said.

Because of a lack of equipment, snow was being cleared by hand, Mr Cutts said. He called for tents to be replaced by sturdier shelters.

Idlib region, where the 2.8 million displaced live, is the last Syrian enclave to oppose the regime in Damascus.

Humanitarian aid reaches them mainly through the Turkish-Syrian border under special UN authorisation that means it is free from Damascus interference, in a deal that expires in July.

Updated: January 24, 2022, 10:58 PM