By Betul Yuruk
UNITED NATIONS (AA) - UN aid chief Mark Lowcock described the "horrific" conditions in northwest Syria to Anadolu Agency in an interview Friday.
The region has been witnessing a "terrible situation" for the past few months, he said, with an estimated 3 million Syrians cramped by the offensive by the forces loyal to Bashar al-Assad.
"I haven't seen anything really as horrific as what's happening now in northwestern Syria. And people are out in the cold in the mud, babies are dying and every day we're getting reports of this violence," said Lowcock.
Syrians who fled Eastern Ghouta are displaced in Idlib province and are still under the threat of bombs without shelter and education, he said, describing a scene of a brutal campaign by the Syrian regime and Russia.
Idlib, near Turkey's southern border, falls within a de-escalation zone laid out in a deal between Turkey and Russia in late 2018.
The Syrian regime and its allies, however, have consistently broken the terms of the cease-fire, launching frequent attacks inside the territory where acts of aggression are expressly prohibited.
The aid chief said people are congested in "very cramped conditions" in northwest Syria without protection. "There's nowhere safe anymore in Idlib."
A humanitarian worker with a health facility working to help Syrians was killed in a bombing Thursday, he said. "Unless this [violence] stops, unless these people [are] protected, I am afraid, we will see the biggest humanitarian horror story the world has seen in the 21st century."
The Syrian population in Idlib is "caught up in a problem" and they are trying to escape from it, said the aid chief.
- UN working with Turkey on Idlib aid
One million Idlib refugees have moved toward the Turkish border in recent months, fleeing attacks by the Assad regime and its allies, causing a desperate humanitarian situation.
Lowcock praised Turkey's "enormous generosity" sheltering more than 3.5 million refugees since the outset of Syria civil war in March 2011.
"And I know that there's been a high price paid in Turkey for them. The people of Turkey have been very generous," he said, urging the international community to provide Turkey with more financial help and other assistance.
The offensive has also displaced 900,000 from northwest Syria.
He thanked Turkey for facilitating UN aid into Idlib through two border crossings. "We're in very constructive discussions with the authorities in Turkey about how we get those border posts open all the time and we get more trucks through."
Lowcock called on the Assad regime and Russia to end the offensive, protect innocent people and allow humanitarian aid to get to the area.
"Find a political solution," was his message to parties in northwest Syria.
Earlier, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres launched a $500 million flash appeal to help 900,000 people in the area.
"We are revising our plans and issuing an urgent appeal to donors for an additional $500 million to cover the needs of the newly displaced people over the next six months," Guterres told reporters in New York.
*Servet Gunerigok in Washington contributed to the story