UN official on deadly clashes in Idlib: 'Biggest crisis in the world today'

  • Video report by ITV News Correspondent Emma Murphy

The humanitarian crisis in Idlib where almost a million people have fled to avoid escalating hostilities has been described as "the biggest crisis in the world today" by a top United Nations official.

Kevin Kennedy, the U.N. regional humanitarian coordinator for the Syria crisis, said despite a massive relief operation, the needs are overwhelming and "we have a long, long way to go."

His comments come as more babies, schoolchildren and innocent civilians are being hit by the unrelenting Syrian conflict.

Last week Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan officially declared the western borders open to migrants and refugees hoping to head to the EU.

But they have been met with Greek police firing tear gas and stun grenades in a bid to block migrants crossing its land borders from Turkey.

  • Emma Murphy reports from inside the besieged Syrian town of Idlib where a relentless air bombardment is killing civilians every day

Turkey's announcement that it would not stop those wishing to cross into Europe came amid a Russia-backed Syrian government offensive into Syria’s Idlib province, where Turkish troops are fighting.

The offensive has killed dozens of Turkish troops and sent nearly a million Syrian civilians towards Turkey's border.

Clashes between Turkish and Syrian forces in northwestern Syria have killed 58 Turkish troops in the past month, including 33 soldiers killed last Thursday in a single airstrike.

A baby cries as migrants gather next to a river in Edirne, Turkey, near Turkish-Greek border. Credit: AP

Kennedy said they saw the massive needs and "the trauma that these people are living in - the newly displaced or (those) there for some time".

UNICEF said 30 per cent of children arriving into camps are already malnourished and more than 80,000 are thought to be sleeping rough in sub-zero temperatures.

960,000

People have fled fighting in Idlib since December, according to Save The Children.

Babies shouldn’t live in tents in -7C (19.4F) but as a result of the relentless attacks on Idlib and other Syrian towns, thousands now do.

Their families seek shelter from the bombs and bullets in these camps but death still stalks them and the cold will kill them.