Here are the remarks of UN Secretary-General António Guterres to the Security Council on the humanitarian situation in Syria in New York today:
The humanitarian situation in Syria remains dire for millions of children, women and men across the country. Needs are at their highest since the beginning of the war more than 11 years ago.
The world’s largest refugee crisis continues to affect the region and the world. I have just published another report on the humanitarian situation in Syria and after my brief introduction, the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs will update you on the latest developments.
The figures are striking: 14.6 million people need humanitarian aid. Twelve million people are food insecure and do not know where their next meal will come from. Ninety percent of the population lives below the poverty line. Infrastructure is collapsing, destroyed by years of conflict. Economic activity has halved during a decade of conflict, regional financial crises, sanctions and the COVID-19 pandemic. The economy is expected to contract further this year, according to the World Bank. People are living on the brink, no longer able to cope.
Our current humanitarian appeal requires $4.4 billion to help people inside Syria and an additional $5.6 billion to support refugees in the region. We have made great strides in scaling up the response, but more is needed. The generous pledges made at the Brussels VI donors’ conference must be paid for. I call on donors to follow up and increase their support. The international community must help communities build their resilience and create the conditions to facilitate the voluntary, safe and dignified return of refugees and displaced persons.
The needs in Syria are too great to be met by immediate rescue efforts alone. Therefore, more than a quarter of our appeal is to support early recovery and resilience. In some sectors of the response, including education, this represents about half of all projects, a significant increase from previous years.
Through projects already underway, millions of people will benefit from the rehabilitation of damaged hospitals, schools, water supply systems and other basic infrastructure. These programs also help communities get back on their feet, providing work opportunities and generating income.
Needs in northwestern Syria continue to grow: 2.8 million people, mainly women and children, are displaced. Many live in camps or informal settlements. More than 90% of people in the northwest need help. These are people who have suffered particularly during 11 years of conflict and humanitarian crisis.
The massive humanitarian response that the UN and its partners are leading in Syria has averted the worst, but more needs to be done. This is why I have always stressed the importance of maintaining and expanding access, including through cross-border and cross-border operations.
When it comes to delivering lifesaving aid to people in need across Syria, all channels must be made and kept available.
After the Council united last year to adopt resolution 2585 (2021), the United Nations responded. Despite the incredibly difficult operating environment, the United Nations has delivered aid across the front lines in the northwest. Five cross-border convoys have now provided life-saving assistance to tens of thousands of people in need. Efforts continue every day and we expect more cross-border convoys to follow.
We have also taken full advantage of cross-border clearance to save lives. Hundreds of trucks now cross from Türkiye every month. Since cross-border aid was authorized in 2014, more than 50,000 trucks have entered Syria to help people in need. The UN’s cross-border operation in Syria is one of the most scrutinized and scrutinized aid operations in the world.
There is no doubt that our help reaches those in need.
Although the increase in cross-border assistance has been a significant achievement, in the current circumstances it is not on the scale needed to replace the massive cross-border response. I urge Council members to maintain the consensus on authorizing cross-border operations, by renewing resolution 2585 (2021) for another 12 months. It is a moral imperative to address the suffering and vulnerability of the 4.1 million people in the region who are in need of assistance and protection. Eighty percent of those in need in northwestern Syria are women and children.
Together, the international community has helped avert total collapse in Syria. We have improved access; we built resilience. But the only way to end the humanitarian tragedy in Syria is through a genuine national ceasefire and a political solution that allows the Syrian people to determine their own future.
We must show courage and determination to do whatever is necessary to achieve a negotiated political solution in accordance with Security Council resolution 2254 (2015). I urge all members of the Council to do everything in their power to encourage the parties to engage in constructive negotiations for peace. We cannot abandon the Syrian people. Thanks.
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