Syria

Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, Ms. Joyce Msuya, Briefing to the Security Council on the Humanitarian Situation in Syria, 26 April 2022

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Thank you, Madam President.

As the eyes of the world turn to other conflicts, Syria is on the verge of becoming yet another forgotten crisis.

Yet millions of Syrians struggle each month to survive, to feed their families and to provide a future for their children.

For many, their situation has never been more dire since violence erupted in 2011.

Madam President,

Fighting in many areas continues, and civilians, including women and children, are being killed and injured. In February and March, OHCHR verified the deaths of 92 civilians, including 25 children.

I wish we did not have to say this every month. Civilians must be protected, and constant efforts made to spare their lives. The obligations of international humanitarian law in this area could not be any clearer. They continue to be flouted.

We also need to address the dire situation for Al Hol camp residents, most of them women and children.

Murders, looting and vandalism occur frequently – five women were killed in the camp in just the last week. The camp is simply not safe. Living conditions also remain precarious. Residents struggle to get food, medical care, clean water, protection and other basic services.

I reiterate the call for the full repatriation of third-country nationals from camps in north-east Syria, as well as for improvements to security that are consistent with the civilian character of the camp.

Madam President,

The economic crisis continues unabated.

Fuel shortages and lack of electricity impact the delivery of basic services, including in health, education, and water and sanitation.

Food and fuel prices are spiralling higher every month, putting the basic necessities for a healthy and dignified life even further out of reach for millions of people. Food prices rose another 18 per cent between February and March.

The economic crisis and related cuts in family expenses often disproportionally impact on women’s and children’s mobility and access to basic services, including to reproductive health and protection services.

Reliable access to sufficient and safe water across the north remains a major challenge. Unprecedented water shortages last year are already taking their toll on farmers and livestock producers. Some sub-districts in the north-east are reporting harvest losses of over 75 per cent.

The loss of crops and of agricultural livelihoods will likely worsen already high rates of food insecurity and malnutrition. Women and girls are disproportionately affected due to their prominent role in the agriculture sector.

Madam President,

For Syrians living through the twelfth year of this crisis, the future looks bleak. As the economic and food security outlook worsens, the resources available for our emergency response are dwindling. We simply do not have the money needed. For far too many people, we are not able to provide the bare minimum in assistance. It is clear we cannot continue business as usual. We must support Syrians in need to find a more sustainable path forward.

As the Emergency Relief Coordinator has said in his last briefing to this Council, we have significantly scaled up our plans to invest in resilience and early recovery. Over 25 per cent of the overall request for humanitarian aid to Syria will contribute to early recovery and resilience, as featured in 570 projects in our humanitarian appeal for Syria this year.

To take just one example, to improve access to education in newly accessible areas of Ar-Raqqa, UNICEF rehabilitated 69 classrooms and three water, sanitation and hygiene facilities over the past two months, benefiting 1,100 students. UNICEF plans this year to increase the resilience of at least 10,000 younger children by supporting them to access early childhood education.

Such initiatives as this will enable vulnerable Syrians to lead more dignified lives, give children hope and reduce the need for assistance in the longer run.

But the challenges remain enormous. There are more than 2.4 million children out of school in Syria, and unless we significantly scale up our support, even more are at risk of dropping out.

Rapid and substantial investments are now required to help us break the vicious cycle of suffering, violence and despair. We count on the generous support of donors and the cooperation of Syrian authorities.

Madam President,

We are expanding access. Three cross-line convoys have now deployed to north-west Syria. The third convoy crossed conflict lines on 30 March. These convoys delivered food and nutrition support to children and carried other essential humanitarian items, including health supplies.

We are working to see further inter-agency convoys deploy in May, and we are continuing to work to improve the distribution of this vital aid.

This is important progress, but it is modest in the face of the tremendous needs, and the UN will continue to work with all relevant parties to expand it.

We are planning to extend our initial six-month plan for regular and sustained cross-line deliveries to the end of the year. We need the continued support of all concerned parties to make these missions timely and predictable.

In the north-east, the United Nations should be given the space to coordinate the humanitarian response from within the country from its hub in Qamishli.

Madam President,

A staggering 4.1 million people in north-west Syria need humanitarian aid. Almost a million people are living in tents, half of which are beyond their normal lifespan. Most are women and children. They depend on us to survive. They deserve to live with dignity.

Last year, the United Nations dispatched some 800 trucks of cross-border aid each month, consistently reaching 2.4 million people.

While current cross-line missions complement the massive cross-border operation, they cannot substitute its size and scope at this point.

Madam President,

When it comes to delivering life-saving aid to people in need across Syria, all channels should remain open and available. The renewal of the UN cross-border authorization in July remains essential to save lives in north-west Syria.

I echo the call of the Secretary-General for the Security Council to maintain consensus on renewing resolution 2585 (2021) in July this year. What he said then remains entirely relevant: there is a moral and humanitarian imperative to do so.

Ultimately, our actions need to translate into a better future for the people of Syria.

Thank you very much.

Disclaimer

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.