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Crisis In Idlib, Syria


The Syrian war is again causing a massive exodus of people. Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have been forced to flee the province of Idlib. That's one of the last rebel-held areas in the country. And Russian and Syrian forces have been pounding it through airstrikes and a ground offensive.

We're going to talk now with someone there. He's with Mercy Corps, the global humanitarian aid organization. We're not identifying him because aid workers working in rebel areas have been targeted and killed in the past.

Thank you so much for being with us.


GARCIA-NAVARRO: What are you seeing there on the ground? What's happening right now?

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Actually, it's a very tough time for our people here since the last aggression. They just had a very terrifying night a week ago full of shelling and airstrikes. They just trying to find some last resort for them to be safe with their children. So most of them just head to the collective shelters and maybe they are gathering. They're looking for a warm place for their families.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Because, of course, it's winter. I mean, do you just see them traveling on the roads and just trying to get away from the fighting any way they can?


GARCIA-NAVARRO: And what is the situation for these people? I mean, we know that the cost of fuel is very high, as is food. I mean, do you have medical supplies? Do people have money? I mean, how are they surviving?

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: A week ago when they intend to flee, these people, they asked for help for trucks or maybe cars or rides to get out of there. And yes, it's very high price of fuel. So we are targeting those (unintelligible) with cash and your advocates.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Can you tell me the story of someone that stuck in your mind that can maybe show us what people are dealing with?

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Yeah. Actually, two sisters - they were living in Makhnoman (ph), and they don't have a car. They have a man to help them. So they just want to flee to somewhere. Some neighbor took them with his truck through - out of there, and they're living in a mosque with a crowd of people. It's very hard for them to get out of their home. Actually, they - as they do not know anyone out of there.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: And they're living in a mosque with many other people. These are the kinds of places that are sheltering these internally displaced people.


GARCIA-NAVARRO: Obviously, you've been dealing with the Syrian war now for many, many years. How would you describe this moment?

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: It's the toughest moment. It's been very hard to assure shelter for all these people. Most of them don't like living in camps. So they - those families just want to have a room with some warm. So it's very hard to - regarding this crazy time of high prices and no shelter.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That's a Mercy Corps team member on the ground in Idlib. Thank you very much. And please stay safe.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you very much. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.