Over 13 million people inside Syria need aid: UN official

United Nations, Oct 31: More than 13 million people inside Syria still need humanitarian assistance and nearly half are in 'acute need' as a result of having fled their homes, of hostilities, and of limited access to food, health care and other basic needs, the UN humanitarian chief has said.

Mark Lowcock told the Security Council the number of Syrians who have been displaced within the country for a long time has dropped from 6.3 million to 6.1 million. But he said 'levels of new displacement remain high,' with 1.8 million people reportedly forced to leave between January and September.

Since just the offensive began in November 2016 that ousted the Islamic State extremist group from the city of Raqqa, its self-proclaimed capital, airstrikes and clashes resulted in over 436,000 people being displaced to 60 different locations, Lowcock said, speaking via video conference from Amman, Jordan.

In the eastern province of Deir el-Zour, he said, heavy fighting and airstrikes continue to cause civilian deaths and injuries as well as large-scale displacement. The International Organization for Migration reported some 350,000 people forced to flee since August, including more than 250,000 in October, he said.

Lowcock said airstrikes on the city of Al Mayadin in Deir el-Zour in mid-October left hospitals and medical facilities 'inoperable,' depriving about 15,000 people of health care. He said the UN children's agency UNICEF and the World Health Organization reported that the attacks destroyed a cold room where at least 140,000 doses of UN provided measles and polio vaccines were destroyed.

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