DAMASCUS, 20 February 2020 – Visiting representatives from key donor countries, including Norway, Sweden and Switzerland, together with a Syria Humanitarian Fund (SHF) team, recently visited humanitarian projects in East Ghouta in Rural Damascus governorate, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Syria announced today.
The one-day visit to Saqba, Kafar Batna and Al-Nashabiyeh in East Ghouta was the second such opportunity for donors to see the essential assistance SHF projects deliver to support local communities in the region, which due to hostilities, remains severely impacted by widespread destruction of civilian infrastructure, including in health, electricity, water and sanitation networks, agriculture and education facilities.
Among the three projects covering health, education and winter assistance, donors visited a mobile medical clinic in Saqba. The clinic, operated by UNFPA in partnership with local Syrian NGO Al Tamayoz, delivers maternal health care, internal medicine, pediatric and psychosocial support to vulnerable families who may otherwise not have access to such essential services. With women of reproductive age comprising around 25 per cent of crisis-affected populations in Syria, donors heard directly from families and health professionals the critical need for comprehensive reproductive and pediatric health services.
“Most of pregnant mothers and children coming in are in poor health,” said Dr. Baraa, a gynaecologist with Al Tamayoz. With over half of Syria’s health care facilities either completely out of service or only partially functioning, in addition to a lack of sufficient qualified staff and other resource shortages, the SHF-funded project in East Ghouta is one of the few opportunities local women have to access quality care. “A local woman recently told me she has no other option in her area other than our clinic,” added Dr. Baraa.
Across Rural Damascus, over 2 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance. With the valuable support of donors, who contributed to projects worth US$47.6 million in 2019, the SHF works to increase local communities’ resilience and access to lifesaving, equitable assistance across the country.
“Sweden was very satisfied to be able to participate in the field trip with Norway and Switzerland,” said Mr. François Landiech, Counsellor for the Embassy of Sweden, of the recent visit. He added that he “thanks OCHA and its partners for bringing us closer to the reality of people living today in Eastern Ghouta”.
The SHF is a multi-donor pooled fund, managed by OCHA, that receives contributions from public and private contributors. Since it was established in 2014, the SHF has supported 61 humanitarian organizations in Syria to deliver essential protection, water and sanitation, health, food, education and other relief, operating within the parameters of the Syrian Humanitarian Response Plan to meet the most critical needs and to support an effective and coordinated humanitarian response.
About the Syria Humanitarian Fund
The Syria Humanitarian Fund (SHF), initiated in June 2014, is led by the Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator supported by the Advisory Board, to support the delivery of strategic humanitarian response while retaining the flexibility to allocate funds to unforeseen events or special requirements. It is generously supported by Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Japan, Jersey, the Republic of Korea, Luxembourg, Norway, the Netherlands, Qatar, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.
For more information, visit: https://www.humanitarianresponse.info/en/operations/syria
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.