Sir, – It is important to remember, as Ireland and Norway, as well as other states on the UN Security Council (UNSC), try to reach agreement on the renewal of Resolution 2533 of the UNSC, that more than 6.5 million displaced people could be left without any assistance. The resolution now provides for a crucial humanitarian aid corridor from Turkey to northwestern Syria via a single remaining passage – Bab Al-Hawa – supporting around 2.5 million people each month.
Last summer, another passage was closed amid the Covid-19 pandemic, leaving people with little ability to protect themselves from the virus.
The situation has not improved since. In Idleb district in northwestern Syria, where the entire population depends on cross-border aid, one of the tents where 55 children have attended school has been targeted and completely destroyed. Another missile targeted Afrin’s largest hospital, severely damaging it, where 350 babies are born each month. New mothers need to find a new place to get the care they need and deserve.
This is just the latest in a decade of injustice, violence, oppression and grave violations faced by people who, after risking their lives to reach even the northern part of Syria, find themselves instead trapped in a cycle of physical and emotional abuse. violence; they now fear that the vital support they get will be interrupted or severely limited due to a heavy cycle of bureaucratic delays, procurement and less funding for humanitarian agencies on the ground.
A group of 42 NGOs have warned that more than a million people are at risk of going hungry in Syria if the resolution for cross-border aid is not renewed. If Security Council members fail to agree on a renewal of the resolution or if Russia veto any resolution, the consequences will be dire for the 4.8 million children in Syria. Serious or complete disruptions in the programming of education, life skills and resilience building activities will mean that children will be more exposed to child labor, early marriage, domestic violence, as well as stress and psychological trauma.
The Syrian people have seen enough; if the parties cannot end the war, the least they can do is allow continued humanitarian access.
This has critical ramifications for the physical and mental well-being of the 13 million Syrians in need and an unfathomable impact on the children of Syria as they represent Syria’s human capital. This year, Ireland is in a leadership position to continue to lead principled humanitarian action for Syria, with our seat on the United Nations Security Council. Named as one of the co-holders of the Syrian humanitarian dossier, along with Norway, Ireland is working tirelessly to ensure the success of the renegotiation of UNSCR 2533 next July.
The immediate priority should be that the Security Council re-authorizes the cross-border resolution for an additional 12 months and re-establish the closed crossings, Bab al-Salam in the northwest and Al Yarubiyah in the northeast, to ensure Syrians in the need, wherever they are, can access life-saving aid and humanitarian actors are able to respond effectively to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Ending the misery of displaced Syrians is crucial. Of the 80 million people worldwide forced to flee their homes due to persecution, conflict or violence, 25% are registered Syrian refugees. They are also the largest refugee population in need of resettlement. – yours, etc.,
Director of Programs,
World Vision Ireland,