Deadly Mix of Fighting, Impassable Access Routes, Precarious Operating Environment Constrain Aid Delivery to Embattled Syrians, Security Council Told in Briefing
In the four months since the adoption of resolution 2165 (2014), the United Nations had sent humanitarian aid to nearly all hard-to-reach locations in Syria’s four governorates, primarily through cross-border deliveries, but “considerable” challenges remained in accessing the most besieged areas, the Security Council heard today.
Briefing on the situation, Valerie Amos, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, told the 15-member body that no more than two besieged locations had been reached in any month since the passage of that resolution and only one location had been reached in each of the past two months. The economy had contracted 40 per cent since 2011. Unemployment exceeded 54 per cent, and three quarters of the population now lived in poverty, with school attendance down more than 50 per cent.
“This is a conflict that is affecting every Syrian,” she said, stressing that 12.2 million people were still in urgent need of assistance — more than 5 million of them children. Violence had forced nearly half of all Syrians from their homes, many of them multiple times. Some 7.6 million people were displaced inside the country and more than 3.2 million people had fled, the largest number of people displaced from conflict in the world.
Despite repeated calls for the fighting to stop, she said, opposition groups meted out brutal punishment against civilian services, while the Government’s aerial attacks, including with barrel bombs, pounded civilian areas. Sexual violence had been used to torture and intimidate.
Amid those extreme circumstances, the United Nations and its partners continued their efforts, she said. Sixty-nine workers had been killed since the start of the conflict and States were urged to remind parties about upholding their international humanitarian and human rights obligations, especially in allowing unhindered access.
For its part, the Council must continue to call for an end to the bureaucratic steps hindering assistance delivery, she said, and push for the inclusion of medical supplies convoys. It must call for the lifting of sieges affecting 212,000 people — 185,500 by Government forces and 26,500 by opposition forces — and insist on an end to the violence. The humanitarian appeal for Syria was less than half funded and she called for more. “This crisis requires a political solution,” she said, expressing hope that one would be found soon.
The meeting began at 3:05 p.m. and ended at 3:24 p.m.