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, 29 August 2022 – Syrian Arab Republic

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As delivered

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Echoing Geir [Pedersen, Special Envoy for Syria], I am also deeply alarmed by the recent upsurge in violence in northern Syria, particularly in the northern Aleppo countryside and northeast Syria. Drone strikes and bombings have caused civilian casualties.

An attack in Al Hasakeh on August 18 claimed the lives of four civilian women and girls. And an attack on a market in the town of Al Bab on August 19 reportedly killed 13 civilians, including four boys and one girl.

The lives of these Syrian children have been destroyed or changed forever.

Violence breeds fear of more violence, and both cause people to flee. As we hear new statements and read reports about preparations for a possible military operation in northern Syria, displacement is already underway.

Violence also hampers our ability to function. The cross-sectional mission to Ras al Ayn was postponed due to the escalation of hostilities, despite all necessary approvals and preparations.

Once again, I would like to remind all the parties to this conflict that international humanitarian law requires them to respect civilians and civilian objects, and to constantly take care to spare them throughout their military operations.

I urge members of the Council to ensure respect for the rules of war and accountability for serious violations.

Mister President,

This year alone, at least 26 murders have been reported in Al Hol camp, including those of 20 women, and we continue to receive reports of sexual violence, including some perpetrated by camp guards. In addition, humanitarian partners have reported an increase in cases of sexual exploitation.

If hostilities escalate in northern Syria, there will likely be a negative impact on the protection of people in Al Hol camp, where the security situation is already extremely poor. Security issues in the camp may further jeopardize the dire situation, and women and girls in particular will be at even greater risk. Movements of humanitarian organizations to the camp and to nearby areas could be further restricted, disrupting emergency and essential services.

Residents of Al Hol and the humanitarian partners working to help them need more protection, safety and security.

Allow me to call once again on all Member States concerned to take urgent action and fulfill their responsibility to repatriate their citizens through all available channels.

Opportunities for durable solutions for the people of Al Hol exist. For example, on August 12, the Government of Iraq repatriated 151 families – mostly female-headed households and highly vulnerable people – to Jeddah 1 in Ninewa Governorate. And 73 internally displaced families left Al Hol on August 14, returning to various parts of Deir-ez-Zor in Syria.

Mister President,

The Syrian economic crisis continues to affect civilians across the country. The FAO reported that last month’s wheat harvest in Syria was one of the lowest on record and the second poor wheat harvest in two years.

Fuel shortages and drastically reduced access to electricity are having a crippling effect on the population, eroding livelihood opportunities and severely limiting access to essential services.

This situation is exacerbated by the water crisis across the country, which affects access to sufficient and safe drinking and irrigation water, as well as water to produce food and produce electricity. ‘electricity.

As always, the economic crisis disproportionately affects women, girls, boys and people with disabilities, particularly their mobility and access to basic services, including reproductive health and protection services.

The United Nations continues to promote increased funding for early recovery and resilience. At least 26% of the overall demand for humanitarian assistance in Syria is aimed at implementing early recovery and resilience programmes. This is essential to enable Syrians to rebuild their lives with dignity.

At least 228 projects received $333 million to implement early recovery and resilience activities, representing 30% of requested funds. And at least 51 of these projects help provide electricity to support basic services, including water and sanitation, nutrition, health and education.

It should be noted here that the overall funding for the Syria Humanitarian Response Plan is currently only 24% of the funds requested. The biggest challenge for aid agencies right now is funding, as needs grow and will grow further as winter approaches. I want to call for greater solidarity and increased humanitarian funding from the international community, especially for early recovery and livelihoods programmes.

Funding for mine action programs, particularly demining, is essential. Progress has been made. Since December, more than one million square meters of agricultural land have been cleared in the Damascus countryside. Increased funding to scale up these programs is needed.

Mr. President, allow me to provide an update on humanitarian access.

The United Nations continues to do everything in its power to advance cross-border assistance to all parts of Syria.

In the northwest, the sixth transversal mission in Sarmada, in the governorate of Idlib, was completed on August 4 and 5. I urge all parties concerned to expand these operations by allowing multiple cross-border convoys each month and increasing the number of trucks in each convoy.

Mister President,

The UN and its partners still do not have humanitarian access to the residents of Rukban. We remain deeply concerned about these people, as they have limited access to essential food, water, healthcare and other basic services.

We remain committed to reaching these people. But we need full access to assess their humanitarian needs and provide regular humanitarian assistance. We also need the necessary access and security conditions to support people who want to leave the camp in a reasoned, voluntary and informed way.

The humanitarian community is planning a multi-sectoral response including vaccinations. I call on all parties to support this plan and to facilitate immediate humanitarian access and assistance to people in the camp.

Mister President,

Late last month, I traveled to Gaziantep and Hatay in Turkey to review the cross-border humanitarian response in light of the Security Council resolution.

I witnessed the scale of the operation and the high level of control applied. I also heard from affected women in Idleb about the dire humanitarian conditions in northwestern Syria.

They told me they needed help getting back on their feet — what we technically call early recovery programs — and they needed better access to education for their children.

Over the coming months, the United Nations will do all it can to facilitate the implementation of all aspects of resolution 2642. But to achieve this, we need the support of all parties. We need meaningful resources and we need sustained, regular and predictable access.

I am very concerned about the irreversible damage caused by chronic underfunding. This could jeopardize life-saving assistance and reduce investments in livelihoods and essential services.

Lack of funding has serious consequences, including more school dropouts, higher malnutrition rates and fewer protective interventions. If we don’t act now, a generation of Syrian children could be lost.

It is essential that this Council shares responsibility for the rescue work of humanitarian workers in Syria.

And I want to remind all parties of their obligation to facilitate rapid and unimpeded humanitarian access to all civilians in need across Syria. I call on all parties to facilitate access, across all response modalities, so that assistance can reach those in need.

And this brings me to my last point.

While we need your support today, we will need it even more in the months to come as winter approaches and our response shifts gears. We know the Syrian winter will bring more hardship and we remain committed to helping people wherever we can.

We count on your support to stay the course. Thanks.

Disclaimer

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

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