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Potential Cross-Border Assistance from Turkey to Syria - Syria Needs Analysis Project – April 2014

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This thematic report examines the potential capacity to reach populations in need of humanitarian assistance via the main border crossings to Syria from Turkey. For more information on the current humanitarian situation in Syria see the SNAP Regional Analysis Reports which are published on a quarterly basis.

The Syria Needs Analysis Project welcomes all information that could complement this report.
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This thematic report examines the potential capacity to reach populations in need of humanitarian assistance via the main border crossings to Syria from Turkey taking into consideration shrinking humanitarian space and volatile security along the border with Turkey while the severity of humanitarian needs continues to grow in the affected governorates in the north of Syria. Little concrete progress on increasing the humanitarian access has been achieved so far, despite the adoption of the non-binding UN Security Council that urges more humanitarian access (2 October 2013).

Borrowing the concept of ‘catchment population’ from the health sector, the methodology of the thematic report is based on the assumption that catchment populations are more than mere counts of users: they are estimates of the number of potential users.

Through each of the border crossings potential populations between 500,000 and 2,500,000 could be assisted by humanitarian actors from the north, many of which are already facing life-threatening problems due to the lack of access to health care, adequate WASH and shelter facilities as well as due to the lack of food.

Should the current unrest continue, permanent closure of border crossings is likely with access to up to 9.5 million people compromised.

Bab al Salama is the primary crossing that serves Aleppo city and as a result is assessed to be the single crossing serving the largest catchment population and the potential to meet the highest number of people in need in the northern Syria. Bab al Hawa also serves in excess of 1 million people in need, primarily in Idleb Governorate. Both crossings are currently open, although data on daily opening/closing is incomplete. Should either of these crossings close for a significant period, impact on both humanitarian operations and commerce would be major.

Already the closure of the 4 easternmost crossings is preventing the delivery of humanitarian assistance to a potential population of more than 3 million people. With almost all access (from Damascus, Iraq and Turkey) to the governorates of Ar-Raqqa and Deir-ez-Zor blocked for the fourth consecutive month, concerns over the deteriorating humanitarian conditions are growing.

According to WFP almost 1 million people are estimated to be at risk of food insecurity in these 2 governorates of whom 600,000 are considered in urgent need of assistance. Opening a border crossing either in Ar-Raqqa or Al Hasakeh will be crucial to reach people in need in the east of Syria who are currently inaccessible.

Between January and February the main 2 border crossings known to be used for commercial traffic were Bab al Salama and Bab al Hawa. These two crossings provide good access to active markets in opposition-controlled areas in the north of Syria such as A’zaz and Sarmada where almost all the goods are available in the markets.

Monitoring of the status of border crossings has been irregular although OCHA now produce a weekly update on the status of each crossing.