WORLD More aid needed for Syrians as winter approaches: UN humanitarian chief


More aid needed for Syrians as winter approaches: UN humanitarian chief


07:59, October 28, 2021

UNITED NATIONS, Oct. 27 (Xinhua) -- UN Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Martin Griffiths said Wednesday that more aid is needed for Syrians as harsh winter approaches.

An aerial view of displaced Syrian youths standing in a queue ahead of classes at a camp for the internally displaced in the town Maarrat Misrin in Idlib Province, Syria, October 6, 2020. (Photo: CFP)

Daily life in Syria is becoming less and less affordable. Over 90 percent of the population now live below the poverty line. Many people are forced to make very difficult choices to make ends meet, and thus face greater risks of exploitation, he told the Security Council in a briefing.

On top of increasing poverty, the water crisis and worsening food security, people in Syria are also facing a resurgence of COVID-19. Cases are surging, intensive care units are at full capacity, and vaccination rates remain just below 2 percent, he said.

"And now, exhausted by years of conflict, poverty and the pandemic, Syrians are about to face another bitter winter. As temperatures start to drop, rain, cold and winter conditions will compound hardship for millions of people," he warned.

Although the United Nations and its humanitarian partners are doing everything possible to assist the most vulnerable, significant funding gaps remain, he said.

"We need an urgent injection of life-saving aid, especially as Syrians prepare for winter. We need more aid for early recovery and livelihoods. Syrians want to be able to support themselves, with dignity. And we need to expand access to basic social services. Syrians, like all of us, want to send their children to school, to have electricity and water, and a reliable health clinic. That is the least that we can help them to achieve," said Griffiths. "And, of course, perhaps most importantly, Syrians need peace and the support and the efforts of the (UN) special envoy."

The United Nations and its partners continue to make every effort to scale up assistance.

The World Food Programme's cross-line delivery of food aid reached Idlib governorate in August. Preparations are under way for another World Food Programme cross-line delivery in November.

And beyond this, the United Nations has developed a plan for a series of regular and predictable inter-agency cross-line operations to deliver multisectoral assistance in the coming six months, and to complement the assistance coming across the border, he said.

The United Nations has already submitted the request for the first inter-agency convoy to the government of Syria. The support of both the Syrian and Turkish governments and relevant parties in Northwest Syria for the plan will also be critical, he said.

"I'm quietly optimistic that we will be able to further expand cross-line access over the coming months. And you can be sure that we will certainly do our part. I urge, therefore, all concerned parties to ensure that cross-line missions and the aid distributions associated with them proceed without delays," said Griffiths.

When it comes to delivering life-saving aid, all channels should be made, and kept, available. Cross-border assistance remains the central part of the humanitarian response to ensure aid effectively and transparently reaches millions of people in need in Northwest Syria, he said.

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