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Increasing Aid...Not Stopping it is What’s Needed for Syrians

Increasing Aid...Not Stopping it is What’s Needed for Syrians

Thursday, 7 July, 2022 - 07:15
Jonathan Hargreaves
Jonathan Hargreaves is the UK Special Representative for Syria.

This time last year I visited Bab Al-Hawa, the last crossing on the Turkish-Syrian border through which the UN is authorized to deliver vital aid into north-west Syria. I saw first-hand how important the UN’s role is for getting aid to millions of Syrians on Turkey’s border.

UN aid access is a lifeline for over four million people who are seeking safety and refuge from Assad.

Humanitarian needs across Syria are greater today than ever before. More than four people in five require humanitarian assistance, over 12 million people cannot guarantee having enough to eat and nine out of ten people live below the poverty line.

So we need more access to aid, not less.

UN Security Council Resolution 2585, unanimously adopted in 2021, granted the UN permission to provide aid through the Bab Al-Hawa crossing. 12 months on, this permission is due to expire on 10 July. If the UN Security Council does not renew it, it will result in an even greater humanitarian catastrophe. Over two million people would lose access to lifesaving necessities immediately. Turkey, a generous host to over three million Syrians already, will see even more in desperate need just the other side of its border.

The UN’s role is in everyone’s interests. Their robust and highly scrutinized monitoring mechanism makes sure that life-saving goods do not end up in the wrong hands. Their analysis of needs, transparent channeling of finance and procurement of food and other products all ensure the highest operational standards that targets those who need it most.

In last year’s Resolution we agreed that we need to do more to boost efforts at ‘early recovery’: aid which helps Syrians build their own resilience against the shocks of this protracted protection crisis. We have kept our side of the bargain.

In 2022, a quarter of the overall $1.1 billion humanitarian aid requested will focus on building resilience. The UK is delivering on this with a new multi-year program to build local resilience across all of Syria.

What does this mean in reality? It means supporting people like Najwa, a 44-year old displaced woman in Idlib learning new agricultural skills. “Since my husband died I’ve been looking for work, doing any odd jobs I can to earn a living,” said Najwa. “Now I have been able to get experience, make contacts and develop friendships. The owner of the olive plantation likes our work. He told us to come back and work for him after our placement ends.”

Families who have been displaced and lost so much need access to a living so they can start to rebuild their lives. As Najwa explains: “As Syrian women, our desire to make a better life for our children is what keeps us going. Despite our suffering and many problems, our one goal is to provide a decent life for our children.”

The UK has no objection to attempts to delivering aid from regime-controlled areas. But frankly we cannot trust the Assad regime to provide life-saving items and services to those who need it most, regardless of their identity or background. The simple truth is that as long as there is violence, conflict and displacement, Damascus cannot address the humanitarian needs that it has created in the north west. Cross-border access via the UN mandate is the only safe and sustainable way to reach those in desperate need. The UK continues to hold the view that due to the increasing humanitarian needs, we need a better resolution than we had last year. Since the closing of the three other border crossings, it has been much harder to deliver life-saving aid into parts of north west Syria. We urge the Council Members to come together and agree on this vital Resolution this week.

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