Humanitarian crisis in Syria

 

Sir, – It is important to remember, as Ireland and Norway, together with other states sitting in the UN Security Council (UNSC), try to find agreement on the renewal of the UNSC Resolution 2533, that more than 6.5 million displaced people might be left with no assistance at all. The resolution now provides a crucial humanitarian aid corridor from Turkey into northwest Syria through one single remaining crossing – Bab Al-Hawa – supporting around 2.5 million people each month.

Last summer, another crossing was shut in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, leaving people with little capacity to protect themselves from the virus.

The situation has not improved since then. In northwest Syria’s Idleb district, where the entire population is dependent on cross-border aid, one of the tents where 55 children were provided with education was targeted and completely destroyed. Another missile targeted the largest hospital in Afrin, severely damaging it, where 350 babies are born every month. New mothers need to find a new place to get the care they need and so much deserve.

This is just the latest in a decade-long history of injustice, violence, oppression and grave violations faced by people, who, having risked their lives to reach even the northern part of Syria, instead find themselves trapped in a cycle of physical and emotional violence; they now fear the vital support they get might be stopped or severely limited due to a heavy cycle of bureaucratic delays, procurement and less funding for humanitarian agencies on the ground.

A group of 42 NGOs has warned that over a million people are at risk of hunger in Syria if cross-border aid resolution is not renewed. If Security Council members fail to agree a renewal of the resolution or Russia vetoes any resolution, the consequences will be dire for the 4.8 million children in Syria. Severe or total interruptions to education, life-skills and resilience building activities programming will mean children are further exposed to child labour, early marriage, domestic violence, and psychological stress and trauma.

The people of Syria have seen enough; if parties cannot end the war, the least they can do is allow continued humanitarian access.

This has critical ramifications for the physical and mental wellbeing of the 13 million Syrians in need and an unfathomable impact on children of Syria as they represent Syria’s human capital. This year, Ireland is in a leading position to continue shepherding a principled humanitarian action for Syria, with our seat on the United Nations Security Council. Appointed as one of the co-penholders of the Syrian humanitarian file, with Norway, Ireland is working tirelessly to ensure the successful renegotiating of UNSCR 2533 this July.

The immediate priority should be for the Security Council to reauthorise the cross-border resolution for another 12 months, and to reinstate the closed crossings, Bab al-Salam in the northwest and Al Yarubiyah in the northeast, to ensure Syrians in need, wherever they are, can access life-saving aid and humanitarian actors are able to respond effectively to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Putting an end to the misery of Syrian displaced people is crucial. From those 80 million people around the world forced to flee their homes amid persecution, conflict, or violence, 25 per cent are Syrian registered refugees. They are also the largest refugee population in need of resettlement. – Yours, etc,

MAURICE SADLIER,

Director of Programmes,

World Vision Ireland,

Dublin 6.