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Lack of funding hampering humanitarian aid to war-affected Syrians – UN relief official

Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator Kyung-wha Kang briefs the Security Council on the situation in Syria.
UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe
Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator Kyung-wha Kang briefs the Security Council on the situation in Syria.

Lack of funding hampering humanitarian aid to war-affected Syrians – UN relief official

More funding is urgently required for humanitarian organizations to help people in desperate need in Syria, the United Nations Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator told the Security Council today during a briefing on the situation in the country.

“Needs continue to outpace response,” said Kyung-wha Kang, as she delivered the briefing on behalf of Valerie Amos, UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs. “The relentless violence and destruction in Syria has led to one of the worst displacements of people the world has seen in decades.”

Ms. Kang said the Syria response is now contained in a single plan and appeal, inclusive of assistance both from within the country and through cross-border operations, adding that the response to people inside Syria will require $2.9 billion this year to assist the 7.6 million people displaced within the country, and the 3.8 million refugees.

“Last year, we received 48 per cent of the amount requested,” she said. “Lack of funding, for example, for the winterization programme, means that hundreds of thousands among the 3.3 million people targeted for assistance have not received assistance, during this particularly harsh winter.”

Despite the lack of resources and the extremely difficult and unsafe operating environment inside Syria, humanitarian organizations continued to help with, among others, distributing food to over 3.6 million people, water and sanitation interventions to 1.5 million, medical assistance to over 680,000 and emergency non-food items to over 500,000.

She said UN’s cross-border deliveries from Turkey and Jordan into Syria totalled 59 under Security Council resolutions 2165 (2014) and 2191(2014), providing food assistance to over 702,000 people, non-food items for over 615,000, water and sanitation supplies for 311,000, and medical supplies for over 468,000 people. The World Food Programme (WFP) had reached 315,000 people in rural areas and Aleppo city in December, planning to reach more next month, but needing more funds to do so.

Key Figures

As the conflict entered its fifth year, “extreme violence and brutality” continued to characterize it. Populated areas were attacked with explosives by both sides, with the Government still using barrel bombs in airstrikes, and implicated in reports of attacks on schools, medical facilities and medical personnel. Meanwhile “atrocities meted out by ISIL” continued, including reports of executions and “brutal subjugation” of women and girls.

“Infrastructure for essential services continues to come under deliberate and indiscriminate attack,” she added, describing Al-Nusra Front’s cutting of water supplies to the 600,000 population of Idleb city and the response by local government authorities of stopping aid deliveries to opposition-controlled areas.

“At the beginning of the conflict, nearly four years ago, 1 million people needed humanitarian assistance inside the country,” she said. “Today, that figure stands at 12.2 million. 3.8 million people have fled to neighbouring countries.”

Of the 12.2 million, she said 40 per cent resided in areas where they struggle to receive basic services and secure basic staples and where humanitarian access remains a significant challenge. UN agencies were unable to deliver food to the entire caseload of 600,000 people in ISIL-controlled Raqqa and Deir ez Zor.

In December, she said, injectable medicines and surgical supplies were denied to areas in Eastern Ghouta. In January, despite support from the Governor of Homs, Government security forces removed all surgical items, diarrhoea kits, midwifery kits and reproductive health kits from the interagency convoy to Al Wa’er, in breach of international humanitarian law.

A total of 212,000 people remained besieged, 185,000 by Government forces, and though 9,000 were able to evacuate towns in Eastern Ghouta, aid deliveries remain heavily restricted. At the same time, no assistance had reached Yarmouk camp for Palestinians since 6 December due to fighting in and around the camp, while there had been no progress on addressing the administrative constraints placed on international non-governmental organizations by the Government of Syria.

“The Security Council must find a way to end the conflict in Syria,” Ms. Kang urged. “We must not allow the world to forget Syria and the atrocities being committed against its people.”