Islamic Relief’s Head of Middle East and North Africa Region, Najat Elhamri, said:
“Last night’s attack on civilians is absolutely horrific. People were just finishing their Isha’a (night prayer) and getting ready for bed when a heavy rocket attack with cluster ammunitions battered Qah village that is home to 35,000 people who have been forcibly displaced from other parts of the country.
“A fire then broke out in one of the camps for the displaced and spread quickly among the cramped tents as people ran for their lives and watched what few belongings they had turn to smoke. Dozens of families have now been left with no shelter at all even as the harsh winter weather and frequent storms approach.
“Many of the injured were taken to a nearby hospital which is supported by Islamic Relief. The doctors there are reporting many people with burns, broken bones and injuries from the explosions. They’re doing what they can but medical supplies and equipment are running low and they fear more people may be injured by the unexploded cluster bombs in the area which now need to be cleared by experienced crews.
“So far at least 16 people – including eight children – have been killed in the attack or died from their injuries. That so many children were killed or injured in a single incident as the rest of the world marked Universal Children’s Day is incredibly painful. Children who have played no part whatsoever in the conflict have been severely affected by the crisis in Syria, with at least 304 children killed since April.
“To make matters worse, Qah is usually one of the safest places in north-west Syria. It is just a few kilometres from the Turkish border and people fled here in an attempt to seek a semblance of safety. Last night showed yet again that civilians in Syria remain in grave danger – wherever they are.
“We desperately need to see an end to the crisis across the country and further efforts by all sides to ensure that the truce agreement in Idlib is strengthened and maintained and that civilians are protected. The obligations under international humanitarian law are clear and civilians must never be targets wherever they are. For too long, this has been the norm in Syria and with the ninth anniversary of the crisis fast approaching we need to see urgent action to stop the suffering.”
Islamic Relief is supporting families who have been affected by the conflict in Syria with assistance including health, food, education, water and sanitation and skills for income generation. Over the past year, we have supported over two million people inside Syria, as well as people affected by the crisis in neighbouring countries (Turkey, Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon).