420,000 people need immediate assistance in Syria: UN

Geneva, Feb 1 (IANS) The Unicef Friday said around 420,000 people, half of them children, need immediate humanitarian assistance in western Syria's Homs region.

Unicef spokeswoman Marixie Mercado said that about 700,000 people across Homs were severely affected by the conflict, Xinhua reported.

At least 200 of the 1,500 schools in Homs have been damaged as a result of the fighting, while another 65 are sheltering children and families, she said.

Health care is also a huge concern in Syria.

According to the World Health Organisation, shortage of medicines is becoming more critical, both in public hospitals and clinics and in private facilities.

Hospitals are in severe need of anaesthesia, antibiotics, serums and other essential medicines, the report said.

Other UN agencies are also working in the conflict-hit country.

The UN refugee agency said the delivery of 15,000 blankets and 2,000 tents has been completed as its first winter emergency relief in Azzas area of north Syria.

There are now 728,553 Syrian refugees in the neighbouring countries of Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq, Egypt and North Africa, according to the UNHCR.

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