Amid the highest levels of violence against civilians since the start of the Syrian conflict in 2011, concrete action must be taken to turn pledges of aid into progress on the ground, the Security Council heard today.
Ursula Mueller, Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, updating the Council on recent developments, said the Brussels pledging conference, which was poised to reach its conclusion, had seen robust commitments. That came at a critical time, as needs were immense, with 13.1 million people lacking assistance.
Despite resolution 2401 (2018) and its ceasefire arrangements, attacks targeting civilians and infrastructure had reached the highest levels since the conflict began in 2011 and cross-line access to those in need remained constricted. More than 160,000 people had fled eastern Ghouta, many going to internally displaced persons’ camps, which were now operating at nearly double their capacity.
Yet, more than only assistance was needed, including additional sites. Concerns were growing about people in north-western Syria, where humanitarian access was limited, including in Idlib, Douma, Nashabieh, Yarmouk and Homs. A United Nations needs assessment of Raqqa — where civilians had been returning since Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) had been driven out in October — had seen poor conditions for returns, with broad damage and more than 50 casualties due to remnants of war reported weekly. A total of 900,000 civilians received assistance in eastern Syria and along the Jordanian border; many were in critical need of assistance.
Commitments made at the Brussels conference must now turn into concrete action, she continued. Noting that resolution 2401 (2018) must urgently be implemented, she highlighted provisions that could see progress now, including that all parties respect the rules of war that covered civilian protection. In addition, access must be ensured so aid could reach those in need while the practice of removing medical supplies from convoys must end.
Citing the Secretary-General’s video message at the Brussels conference, she said at the recent Council retreat in Sweden that there was a strong commitment to humanitarian access and to overcoming the obstacles to aid delivery. “We owe it to the people of Syria to build on the momentum and see concrete improvements on the ground,” she said.
The meeting began at 10:08 a.m. and ended at 10:24 a.m.