Thank you, Madam High Representative and Vice-President, for gathering us today. When we came together in Brussels six months ago, I reminded you that Syria remains one of the great humanitarian crises of our time. The situation in northwest Syria right now speaks to this fact. Hundreds of civilians have lost their lives since the military escalation began in late-April. More than 400,000 people have fled the violence, moving from the so-called de-escalation zone further into Idleb.
But the gravity of the Syrian crisis extends far beyond the northwest. Conditions have deteriorated in recent months for those that remain in Rukban. And in the northeast, twothirds of the 69,000 residents of Al Hol camp are children, many of whom have been exposed to the most horrific violence imaginable under ISIL.
Humanitarian organizations continue to reach those most in need. Humanitarian agencies operating from within Syria and through the Security Council-authorized cross-border operations reached an average of 6.3 million people each month in the first half of the year.
Twelve million individual medical procedures were supported on a monthly basis. More than one thousand monitoring missions were completed to strengthen transparency and accountability of the coordinated response.
How can we live up to our responsibility to support Syrians in need? By doing four things:
We must take all possible steps for a ceasefire in northwest Syria. As I have said before, a continuous large-scale military assault will turn an already desperate situation into the worst humanitarian catastrophe the world has seen in the 21st century. That has to be avoided.
Second, protecting civilians and civilian objects, including health workers and health facilities, not least by abiding by Security Council resolutions. All of us in this room say we agree with that. The women, the children and the health workers however, say that this is not happening. You all know that.
Sustained and unimpeded humanitarian access is required, particularly in conflict-affected areas. Renewing Security Council resolution 2165 or 2449, later this year, is vital. Millions of civilians in Idleb depend on cross-border operations.
Fourth, we have to ensure the humanitarian effort has the needed resources. Filippo Grandi has just talked about the shortages in the refugee appeal. So far, our humanitarian response plan is funded by 33 per cent or US$1.1 billion of the US$3.3 billion required. At this time last year, by comparison, our funding stood at almost 45 per cent of the US$3.4 billion required. In other words, the resources available to support urgent needs in Syria have decreased over the past year, both in absolute and relative terms.
Now progress on the political track will be facilitated by progress on these four points. And the opposite is also true.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.