Beirut: At least 120,000 people have been displaced in Syria this month because of fighting, according to UN humanitarian officials.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said the people fled their homes in the Aleppo, Hama and Idlib governorates between October 5 and October 22.
UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said yesterday that most remain in the three governorates but some have fled to camps near the Turkish border. He said most people in Aleppo moved toward villages and towns in the countryside west of the city.
Dujarric said the displaced Syrians need tents, basic household items, food, water and sanitation services.
He said the UN's humanitarian partners are scaling up their response, and distribution of cooked and ready-to-eat food has started to those displaced in the three governorates but needs to be stepped up.
The UN report largely matches up with a similar report yesterday by the Norwegian Refugee Council, which estimated that 100,000 Syrians have been displaced in the last three weeks by the recent surge in fighting following the start of an airstrike campaign by the Russian military.
The council said that this new exodus is pressuring already overcrowded and overstretched camps in the country. In a statement, the group said that the new wave of displacement is mostly from the province of Aleppo, where Syrian government and allied troops, emboldened by Russian airstrikes, began a ground offensive on Oct 16.
The militant Islamic State group has also seized new territories in Aleppo, pushing out rival rebels and fighting with government troops.
Others were displaced by the airstrikes and fighting in Hama and Homs. "This is a cry for help," said Karl Schembri, the Refugee Council's media adviser. He said the newly displaced are heading toward already crowded facilities along the border with Turkey.
"There are already people moving day-to-day to find places" to lay their tents, while rainy season has begun, he said.
Last week, a UN official in Geneva said that around 35,000 people are reported to have been displaced from just two villages on the southwestern outskirts of Aleppo city.
The civil war, in its fifth year, has killed more than 250,000 people and displaced half of Syria's prewar population of 23 million.