9 January 2023 – CARE International is relieved by the United Nations Security Council vote now to maintain humanitarian assistance for more than four million Syrians in the Northwest of the country through the Bab al-Hawa crossing for another 6 months. Despite the small window that a period of 6 months provides to respond to the acute and catastrophic needs, cross-border assistance remains vital to ensuring that some 80 per cent of Syrians living in the Northwest continue to receive vital services, including food, clean water, shelter, medical care and other lifesaving relief.
CARE continues to provide assistance to people in Northern Syria, but we are deeply concerned that we cannot sufficiently scale up our work or meet the growing needs of communities across the region when the United Nations’ ability to operate the cross-border mechanism remains so tenuous. The challenges Syrian people face in the Northwest are compounded when the Security Council continues to reauthorize UN cross-border access for periods of just six months. This leads to operational plans being cut short and ultimately humanitarian assistance being adapted to accommodate the Council’s resolution instead of the humanitarian needs. NGOs like CARE and our all-important local Syrian humanitarian partners need a dependable funding cycle of at least one year so that we can appropriately plan and deliver assistance at scale and have the stability to expand early recovery programming in line with calls from the Security Council itself.
Sadly, the relief that cross-border operations provide to the Northwest is not afforded to the Northeast, where cross-border operations continue to be suspended for a region with a similarly dire humanitarian situation. Needs have grown 38% since the al-Yarubiyah crossing was closed in January 2020. Drought and a severe water crisis endanger millions of people’s access to clean water in the Northeast in the midst of public health outbreaks like COVID 19 or cholera. The impacts of the water crisis and global hunger crisis have also significantly worsened the state of food security in Northeast Syria, with a 150% increase in child malnourishment during a recent 6-month window.
Considering the rapidly deteriorating situation on the ground, and the increased needs that families have in the depths of a Syrian winter, the international community has a moral duty to guarantee, at a minimum, unimpeded and sustainable humanitarian access by the most direct modality to all people in need in all affected areas across Northern Syria.
We hope that the UN’s vital cross-border mechanism continues to function well beyond July 2023 when the Security Council will again have to decide whether to reauthorize it. By that time, Syrians will have endured more than 12 years of conflict and deprivation compounded by economic collapse, drought, public health crises and a global hunger crisis. At a time when the needs of Syrians are likely to be higher than ever, they should be assured of receiving the humanitarian assistance the international community has an obligation to provide them. Next July, we urge the Security Council to put politics aside and ensure the lives of Syrian people come first.
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