'I have no friends here': Idlib's children suffering in camps where 'death has become the norm'

Children are dying and being displaced at an unprecedented rate in Syria's Idlib province, the last big rebel stronghold in the country.

The end game of nearly nine years of civil war is being played out in the north of the country where “death has become the norm”, even among newborns.

The forces of President Bashar Assad and his Russian allies are focused on Idlib, inflicting suffering and death on thousands.

Despite a ceasefire in the area, the bombardment of the city by government forces has continued in recent weeks.

One young girl said she is 'alone' with 'no friends' in the camp. Credit: MedGlobal

In the past month, 1,500 people have been killed.

More than half a million people have also been forced to flee, 80% of them women and children, and more than 6,000 children are being taken from Idlib to camps every day.

An average of two children are killed each day, according to the UN.

Those that leave their homes are pouring into camps which are often unable to cope.

President of the Syrian Medical Association Dr Mufaddal Hamadeh, who has recently returned from Idlib and filmed the conditions there, painted a grim picture of the reality there.

“Babies are the most vulnerable of all people, especially the newborns,” he told ITV News.

“Death becomes the norm of life, destruction and misery and suffering becomes normal.

“I think people tend to shut down and they become totally numb to pain - and I guess that’s the only way they can survive.”

People are struggling to stay warm. Credit: MedGlobal

At a camp in northern Syria, a young girl told ITV News “I have no friends here” and “I am here alone, there is no school” while a father said children are “sick all the time” from the cold.

  • Video by MedGlobal

Amjad Yamin, from Save The Children, described it as “the worst displacement we have seen”.

He said: “We’re looking at more than half a million people within less than two months who have taken everything they own, all their belongings, trying to escape the violence but they don’t have a place to go to anymore.”

With the border with Turkey closed to them - many have been left with nowhere to escape.

One of those to go almost her entire lifetime without having to leave her home until now is one elderly lady.

It is the first time she has had to leave her home like this.

She told ITV News: “This is the first time I have been displaced in my whole life.

"God bless the people who came to help us.

"We have floor mattresses to sleep on.”

Despite the hardship of life in the camps, they are often a sanctuary compared to the violence and suffering its residents have escaped.

Dr Zaher Sahoul, from MedGlobal, recently returned to America after visiting Idlib and filmed in the IDP Camp there, told ITV News: “I’ve been to many disaster regions around the world, but this is the worst I’ve seen in my life.”

Locals in camps are overwhelmed, he said, while the United Nations has been “absent and slow”.

The UN has called for an cessation of hostilities and agencies are overwhelmed.

A spokesperson for Secretary-General António Guterres said he is "deeply concerned by the ongoing military escalation in northwest Syria and calls for an immediate cessation of hostilities.

"He reaffirms that attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure, including on healthcare and educational facilities, are unacceptable.

"Military operations of all parties, including actions against and by designated terrorist groups, must respect the rules and obligations of international humanitarian law, which include the protection of civilians and civilian objects.

"The Secretary-General reiterates that there is no military solution to the Syrian conflict.

"The only path to stability is a credible and inclusive UN-facilitated political solution."