On July 10th 2022, the United Nations Security Council will take a crucial decision on humanitarian access to Syria. It is imperative to reauthorize the provisions of the cross-border resolution for at least twelve months to ensure that more than four million Syrians will continue to have access to food aid, essential medicine, and other basic humanitarian goods.
Since the adoption of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 2165 in 2014, millions of people living in Syria accessed to humanitarian assistance through UN-led cross-border activities. In order to “ensure that humanitarian assistance, including medical and surgical supplies, reaches people in need in Syria through the most direct routes”, the resolution opened Bab al-Salam, Bab al-Hawa, Al-Ramtha and Al Yarubiyah border crossings for humanitarian assistance. From 2020, the UNSC reduced the allowed border crossings from four to one, leaving Bab al-Hawa as the only option. This border crossing provides a link between the province of Idlib and Turkey and allows the delivery of humanitarian aid into north-west Syria. The UNSC Resolution 2585 from 2021 authorised Bab al-Hawa border crossing for further twelve months expiring on July 10th, the date on which the UNSC will meet to decide whether to extend or suspend it.
More than four million people in northwest Syria depend on humanitarian aid
Each month, more than 2.4 million Syrians benefit from humanitarian aid delivered through Bab al-Hawa. In 2021, more than 9,500 trucks, the vast majority consisting of food aid, medicine and goods to meet other urgent needs, entered into Syria through Bab al-Hawa.
If the extension of the cross-border access was vital in 2021, it is even more critical today. The conflict in Ukraine and Syria’s worst drought in 70 years in 2021, have had a negative impact on the food security situation across the country, which is likely to exacerbate throughout 2022 and beyond. According to the UN, after eleven years of conflict, the number of Syrians dependent on humanitarian aid is at its highest level with 14.6 million people in need. In northwest Syria this number currently reaches 4.1 million, up from 3.4 million in 2021.
The extension of Resolution 2585 is also essential for the delivery of medical and surgical supplies. In northwest Syria, 70 hospitals, 186 fixed primary health centers, and 77 mobile clinics serve more than 4 million people and they are already facing huge funding gaps. Supplies and support from the UN agencies play a vital role in providing health care for local populations and internally displaced people residing in this region of Syria.
Moreover, most essential pharmaceuticals and vaccines will not be able to be procured by NGOs without UN´s assistance.
A potential non-renewal will have other significant harmful effects
In addition to the UN transhipments providing goods to humanitarian actors in the northwest, the resolution also authorizes UN to financially support programs in non-governmental-controlled areas through the UN Syrian CrossBorder Humanitarian fund (SCHF). Since 2015, the SCHF has cumulatively allocated $726 million to support partners implementing projects targeting a total of 63 million people. If the resolution is not renewed, Syrian humanitarian NGOs not authorized by the Government of Syria which are the main recipients of the fund, will lose access to it.
No other viable alternative to humanitarian assistance in northwest Syria
Closure of the last remaining border crossing impinges on humanitarian principles and the international humanitarian law. It threatens the lives of millions of men, women, and children who are dependent on external humanitarian aid for their survival.
The humanitarian response provided via the UN cross-border operations, account for 80% of food aid in northwest Syria. Neither NGO-led response, nor cross-border operations are currently able to provide the scale of aid required. Securing at least a 12-month renewal allowing appropriate planning of an effective and predictable humanitarian response is critical; particularly ahead of the the harsh winter months expected.
We call on the United Nations Security Council members to ensure the approval of a minimum of a 12-month renewal of the cross-border resolution.
We call on our governments representatives and particularly on the Permanent Representatives of China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the U.S. to the United Nations, to take the necessary steps to ensure humanitarian access into Syria.
We also call on the international community and NGOs to raise awareness on the importance of the renewal of the resolution by underlining the need of sufficient and efficient humanitarian assistance into northwest Syria.
Médecins du Monde’s work in Syria
Médecins du Monde started its activities in 2008, providing Primary Health Care services in Aleppo governorate in partnership with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC), before the beginning of the conflict. With the outbreak of hostilities, Médecins du Monde adapted its response to better address the needs of the Syrian population.
During the last eleven years of the Syrian conflict, Médecins du Monde has engaged in numerous medical humanitarian activities to assist those suffering from the war. The complexity of the conflict – with numerous actors, limited access, direct attacks on healthcare personnel and facilities, and massive needs – has resulted in an equally complex response. MdM implements activities directly or through partnerships with local actors in Syria and in nearby countries with Syrian refugees.