Syrians step in to help Idlib father who offered to exchange kidney for a tent

Syrians step in to help Idlib father who offered to exchange kidney for a tent
Syrians fleeing Idlib violence are facing the shock of freezing weather and no shelter - and for one father, the prospect of no protection for his family was too much.
3 min read
25 February, 2020
People in makeshift tents after fleeing Idlib [Getty]
A photo showing a Syrian father in Idlib province offering to sell a kidney in exchange for a tent for his family has become a symbol of the devastation wrought by Bashar Al-Assad's regime and Russia in northwest Syria.

The man is seen holding up a placard pleading for help as thousands of Syrians are forced to sleep in the open after fleeing their home, following intense regime bombing.

"I was displaced 27 days ago. I have a kidney for sale for the price of a tent which will shelter me and my family. Only God is with me," the statement concludes.

The image was shared widely online, including by Charles Lister from the Middle East Institute.

Following a swift response from people online offering to buy a tent for the man and his family, a representative from Hiba Allah Charity Educational Center in Idlib Syria for Orphans said they provided one for him. 

"We secured a tent for him and helped him," the group wrote on Twitter.

"And I asked our volunteer team in Syria to follow up on his situation."

Despite this small victory, the humanitarian situation in Idlib has worsened.

The regime assault in northwest Syria is coming "dangerously close" to encampments for refugees, risking an imminent "bloodbath", the UN said on Monday. Around a million people have fled the regime offensive since it intensified in December.

Mark Cutts, the UN's Deputy Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Syria Crisis, also said that the UN was trying to double aid deliveries via Turkey from 50 to 100 trucks a day.

"The fighting is now coming dangerously close to an area where more than a million are living in tents and makeshift shelters," Cutts told reporters in Geneva.

Cutts warned there was a risk of "a real bloodbath".

A months-long offensive by Russia-backed Syrian troops against rebels backed by Turkey in northwest Idlib has seen hundreds of thousands of people flee the violence.

As a result of the escalation, Cutts said the UN was revising up its funding appeal for the crisis from $330 million to $500 million (462 million euros), adding that there was a shortfall of around $370 million.

The UN sent 1,200 aid trucks into the area in January and has dispatched 700 more so far in February, Cutts said.

"The reality is it is simply not enough. We're barely able to meet the needs of the people for the most urgent food rations and tents and blankets and winter items," he said.

Cutts also said aid workers were "overwhelmed", some warehouses had been looted and the fighting had damaged some 77 hospitals and other medical facilities.

As temperatures dip and bombing intensifies, some Syrians have been forced to take refuge underground.

Of those newly displaced since December, some 170,000 live out in the open or in unfinished buildings, the United Nations says.

Hundreds of civilians have been killed in the offensive, as bombing empties towns and villages.

Airstrikes have also targeted hospitals and homes.

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