Breakdown of Syria humanitarian crisis by areas, in figures


Beirut (AFP)

With Syria's ceasefire appearing to hold on Tuesday, attention turned to another crucial point of the truce deal brokered by Moscow and Washington: the delivery of desperately-needed aid.

The US-Russian accord calls on all sides to ensure "unimpeded and sustained humanitarian access" to all besieged and hard-to-reach areas, particularly the second city of Aleppo.

Here is a breakdown of Syria's humanitarian crisis and the areas most in need of assistance.

- World's biggest crisis -

- Syria's five-year war has created what the International Committee of the Red Cross calls "the largest and most complex humanitarian crisis in the world".

The war has left more than 300,000 people dead, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Tuesday.

Over half of Syria's population has been displaced and nearly five million people have sought refuge in neighbouring countries. The UN says since 2011, Syrians' life expectancy has dropped by more than 20 years.

- According to the UN, Syria's economy has shrunk by 40 percent and over 13 million people inside the country, including six million children, need humanitarian aid.

Nearly 2.5 million Syrians lack reliable access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food, while over 11 million require health care, it says.

- Besieged areas -

- Some 5.5 million people live in hard-to-reach areas where food and medical supplies are running desperately short.

- According to the UN, close to 600,000 people live in 18 areas that are under siege, mostly by government forces but also by rebels.

- Observers say the number could be twice as high if other areas -- like Aleppo's besieged eastern districts -- are included.

- An estimated 250,000 civilians are trapped under a devastating regime blockade in rebel-held eastern Aleppo. Rebels broke a siege of the area in August, but government forces reinstated it on September 8.

- UN figures predate last month's evacuation of thousands of people from the town of Daraya near Damascus after a four-year regime siege.

- Syria's UN envoy Staffan de Mistura has warned that other besieged towns were likely to experience the same fate.

- Obstacles -

Delivering aid in Syria is a dangerous, often impossible task.

- The UN said Tuesday it had prepared help for civilians during Syria's ceasefire but aid convoys would not be delivered until security was assured.

"We need to enter into an environment where we are not in mortal danger," UN humanitarian office (OCHA) spokesman Jens Laerke said.

- OCHA says deliveries have been impeded by "conflict, shifting frontlines, administrative and bureaucratic hurdles, violence along access routes and general safety and security concerns".

It has accused the regime of systematically removing surgical equipment from convoys and breaking international law by preventing UN aid convoys from reaching six besieged areas.

- Last week, over 70 Syrian aid groups said they would suspend cooperation with the United Nations, accusing UN humanitarian agencies and their partners of being manipulated by the regime.

- Charity group Doctors Without Borders (MSF) accuses both regime and rebel groups of directly targeting medical facilities and workers for political purposes.

It says the Syrian government has denied repeated requests for access to besieged areas.