CARE International is relieved by the United Nations Security Council vote today to maintain humanitarian assistance for more than four million Syrians in the Northwest of the country through the Bab al-Hawa crossing for effectively another 12 months. Cross-border assistance is vital to ensure some 80% of Syrians living in the Northwest, who are in acute need of aid, continue to have the essentials, including food, clean water, shelter, medical care and other lifesaving relief.
We are disappointed, nonetheless, that calls from humanitarian organizations like CARE to increase access, by reinstating Bab al-Salam and Al Yarubiyah crossings, have not been answered. While humanitarian aid can continue to flow into Northwest Syria, the same cannot be said for the Northeast, where humanitarian needs have grown at almost double the rate of other parts of the country – a staggering 38% increase since the Al Yarubiyah crossing was closed in January 2020.
Drought and a water crisis endanger millions of people’s access to clean water in the Northeast, as well as their ability to remain the bread basket of Syria and generate hydro-electric power for cities and towns. Additionally, COVID-19 continues to spread, especially in densely populated areas and camps, threatening the most vulnerable, especially women and girls who now face new burdens caused by the decimated Syrian economy. Since the closure of Al Yarubiyah, humanitarian workers have not been able to supply adequate medicine, medical services and medical equipment that are desperately needed to fight the pandemic and treat a multiplicity of other health conditions.
Together with our dedicated Syrian partners, CARE continues to provide assistance to people in Northeast Syria, but we are deeply concerned that we cannot sufficiently scale up our work or even begin to meet the growing needs of communities in the region. We call for the continuation of the vital cross-border aid mechanism and its expansion through all modalities, including the Al Yarubiyah and Bab al-Salam crossings, to ensure Syrians across the country who need humanitarian assistance are able to receive it. We urge the Security Council to put politics aside and ensure the lives of Syrian people come first.