The United Nations is bracing for a mass movement of 900,000 people who are expected to flee if the government launches a large-scale offensive in Syria’s last rebel-held region of Idlib.
“We hope for the best but prepare for the worst,” UN Syria aid coordinator Panos Moumtzis said as he presented the contingency plan to reporters in Geneva on Thursday.
At a humanitarian meeting of regional and international powers on Syria, a Russian diplomat said that everything was being done to find a peaceful solution, Moumtzis said.
The Russian military has been fighting alongside Syrian government troops in the 7-year civil war.
However, humanitarian agencies are preparing for various scenarios, including the use of poison gas, according to the UN official.
The United Nations have provided the coordinates if 235 hospitals, schools, food warehouses and refugee camps to all warring parties, trying to prevent attacks on these vital civilian facilities.
Since the start of September, more than 38,000 people have already been uprooted amid a sharp increase of hostilities in the north-western region of Idlib. More than 4,500 of them have since returned to their homes, according to UN figures.
In recent weeks, the government has concentrated troops in the north-west as Damascus aims to free Idlib of 10,000 extremist fighters who have concentrated in the area.
UN officials have warned that warring parties should not lose sight of the nearly 3 million civilians in Idlib who could become caught up in the fight against terrorists.