A destroyed mosque is seen through a hole of U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces sniper, on the front line on the eastern side of Raqqa, Syria, Wednesday, July 26, 2017. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Over 200,000 civilians have fled their homes in Syria around the Islamic State group’s de facto capital of Raqqa since April 1, including over 30,000 displaced just this month as U.S.-backed Syrian fighters try to oust the extremists, a senior U.N. humanitarian official said Thursday.
Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Ursula Mueller told the U.N. Security Council in a video briefing from Amman, Jordan, that “an estimated 20,000 to 50,000 people remain inside Raqqa city, which is now encircled, and their situation is perilous — there is no way for them to get out.”
She also lamented that the U.N. has delivered aid to only a few hard-to-reach areas in Syria and not a single besieged location this month — and she blamed the Syrian government, armed groups, insecurity and fighting.
For those displaced in Raqqa province, she said humanitarian conditions are very difficult with temperatures now approaching 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit). The United Nations also has serious concerns over their protection, particularly over their freedom of movement outside the camps many now live in, she said.
Leaving the city of Raqqa remains “extremely difficult due to the presence of mines and other unexploded ordnance, as well as shelling, sniper activities and airstrikes,” Mueller said.