Commitments made at Munich enabled humanitarian assistance into five besieged areas. Building on this, sustained, regular access is needed.
On 15 February, seven health facilities were damaged or destroyed by airstrikes.
The UN and NGOs are making contingency plans and stockpiling in case eastern Aleppo city is cut off.
After five years hardship defines life for too many in Syria
Faces young, old, gaunt, stared out of newspapers across the world and Madaya became the reality of life under siege. As the war reaches the end of its fifth year, millions of people in towns and villages throughout Syria do not have enough water, food, or shelter. They live in fear, controlled by armies and armed groups, unable to move freely. Nor is it possible for sufficient humanitarian assistance to reach them. Access to besieged areas was the focus of the humanitarian strand to the recent discussions about Syria in Munich. Statement of the International Syria Support Group, February 12, 2016 This has created some momentum and on February 17 a convoy of 125 trucks, with aid for 82,000 people, made its way into five besieged towns. More will be needed, and soon. Humanitarians will always insist that siege as a tactic of war is never acceptable and that the ongoing effort to get access for regular, sustained delivery of humanitarian assistance needs to continue.
The responsibility to protect civilians is established under International Humanitarian Law as well as human rights treaties, but clear breaches have left communities vulnerable. In Syria, over 13 million people need humanitarian assistance. Around four and a half million live in hard-to-reach areas with restricted movement and limited access to services and humanitarian assistance. Almost half a million of these are living in besieged areas: 274,200 besieged by the Government of Syria; 200,000 people by ISIL; 12,500 people by non-State armed groups and the Nusrah Front. Although in this ongoing conflict numbers can change daily.
Behind numbers “are the individual and personal stories of girls, boys, women and men whose lives have been uprooted; whose dreams for the future have been shattered; and who have witnessed and been subjected to unspeakable fear and suffering”. Stephen O'Brien Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, address to UN Security Council, January 27, 2016
If you want to go to another place you still think of your family at home because of airstrikes.
You never know what happens to your family, your house, if you are coming back or not.
Your mind keeps busy because of airstrikes and barrel bombs. Income is very low and everything is very expensive. This is the real suffering. Resident, eastern Aleppo city
I am married with two children. We are trying to provide for our families as well as we can.
There are medical centres, but we are afraid to go there because they are hit by airstrikes. Villager Idlib.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.