OCHA tells Security Council: “Syria faces its highest levels of humanitarian needs”

Briefing to the Security Council on the humanitarian situation in Syria by Ramesh Rajasingham, Director of the Coordination Division of OCHA, on behalf of Martin Griffiths, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator

As prepared for delivery

Thank you, Mr. President.

Last week, the Muslim world celebrated Eid al-Adha. However, for people in Syria, the celebrations were marred by the ongoing economic crisis in which the already high prices of food and other key items have further doubled in the last year.

A recent World Bank report highlights the devastating effects of years of conflict on the well-being of Syrian households. The economy, which shrank about 1.2 percent last year, is forecast to shrink an additional 1.5 percent this year.

Nearly 13 million people – more than half the population – already face high levels of acute food insecurity.

More than 650,000 children under five show signs of stunting due to severe malnutrition, and a third of the country’s children live in food poverty, consuming only two or fewer food groups a day.

The economic crisis, along with the ongoing impacts of the conflict in Syria and the broader region, is a key reason why the Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Food Program identify Syria as a situation of high concern for worsening food insecurity over the next five years. months.

Mr. president,

While humanitarian assistance cannot reverse this crisis, it can save lives and alleviate some of the worst suffering.

However, as of mid-year, the UN humanitarian appeal remains less than 13 percent funded. This is the lowest level of funding of our ten largest country appeals globally.

We very much welcome the promises made at the Brussels Conference last month. It is vital that these are disbursed as quickly as possible. As I said at the conference, if the funding situation does not change, the impact on the people of Syria will be dire.

Although the UN and its partners have managed to provide critical assistance to some 2.7 million people across Syria each month so far this year, this is a substantial reduction from last year.

The supply of drinking water and sanitation services has been disrupted in some parts of northern Syria, increasing exposure to health risks in the hot summer months.

Health services have had to be reduced and dozens of health centers are at risk of closing in the coming weeks unless they receive additional funding.

It is welcome that last month the World Food Program (WFP) resumed deliveries of emergency food assistance after months of suspension due to funding shortfalls. But I am concerned that, at current funding levels, WFP can only help a third of the 3.1 million people who are severely food insecure.

Mr. president,

As we have repeatedly stressed, making the most of limited resources requires the ability to provide assistance through all possible modalities.

The cross-border operation from Türkiye remains a lifeline for millions of people in the northwest. Last month, we were able to move 98 trucks with food, health, shelter and other critical supplies.

The availability of the Bab al-Hawa, Bab al-Salam and Al-Ra’ee crossings has also enabled more than 190 visits by UN staff to northwest Syria this year. These have been instrumental in monitoring and evaluating humanitarian projects and ensuring that aid efficiently reaches those who need it.

This includes projects such as a wastewater treatment project in Idlib implemented by UNICEF and its partners and supported by the Syrian Cross-Border Humanitarian Fund, which has enabled regular access to clean water for 250,000 people.

We welcome the consent of the Government of Syria to continue using these routes. We hope that you will extend your consent to the use of the Bab al-Hawa crossing through which most assistance flows, beyond July 13 and, indeed, as long as prevailing humanitarian needs persist.

The need for cross-line assistance deliveries is no less critical. Engagements continue in long-delayed missions to Idlib and the Ras al-Ain and Tell Abiad areas of northern Syria; and in expanding the availability of routes through the Deir ez-Zor governorate, to ensure more efficient movement of aid.

Mr. president,

Syria is facing its highest levels of humanitarian need since the start of this thirteen-year crisis, and the situation continues to deteriorate as each month passes.

The need for more conducive conditions for an efficient humanitarian response has never been greater.

This requires absolute respect for international humanitarian law, including the protection of civilians and unhindered humanitarian access.

It also requires sufficient resources so that we can continue to provide critical assistance to the millions of people who need it.

But if we are to begin to reverse the growing needs in Syria, the conditions must also include scaling up investment in early recovery efforts across the country, to help build resilience and lay the foundation for people to rebuild their lives and homes. livelihoods, and restore some resilience.

However, as we have repeatedly said, any hope of finding a lasting path out of the humanitarian crisis and towards development depends on a political solution to the conflict.

We once again join Special Envoy Pedersen’s call for all parties to fully commit to the process established in resolution 2254, and urge the Security Council and its members to support progress towards ending this crisis.

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