A Palestinian died during the Israeli attack on the West Bank
LEEDS, UK: A six-month extension of a UN Security Council deal guaranteeing cross-border aid to Syria is not enough to meet the vast needs in the country’s military-held north-west region… rebels, aid agencies warn.
After weeks of uncertainty, the Council voted unanimously on January 9 to renew aid, allowing aid to reach millions of people displaced by nearly twelve years of conflict.
A day before the resolution expired, the 15-member council agreed to extend aid until July 10 by allowing it to cross the Turkish border through the Bab al-Hawa crossing.
This checkpoint meets more than 80% of the needs of people living in rebel-held areas and is the only way for UN aid to reach civilians without crossing into regime-controlled areas. Bashar al-Assad.
Russia, an ally of the Syrian regime, has long demanded that aid flow only through areas controlled by Damascus and has vetoed a six-month cross-border extension.
While the renewal has been welcomed by aid agencies, many say the six-month extension is too short for a sustained, meaningful and cost-effective humanitarian response.
“Shorter timeframes contribute to an emergency planning cycle that limits our ability to reach those in need,” Nicola Banks, advocacy manager at the charity Action for Humanity, told UK-based Arab News.
“The humanitarian situation is deteriorating and the inability of agencies to plan more than six months ahead risks making aid less effective and more expensive,” he said.
The NGO Doctors Without Borders, which receives almost all of the supplies it needs for its intervention in Syria through the Bab al-Hawa crossing, is also concerned about the restrictions imposed by the six-month renewal.
“Security and access restrictions continue to severely limit our ability to provide humanitarian assistance in accordance with the scale of the needs,” Sébastien Gay, MSF’s head of mission for Syria, told Arab News.
The ability of aid agencies to respond to people’s needs, particularly for food and health services, has been weakened by the protracted economic crisis, hostilities and a general decline in humanitarian funding over the years.
“Even if the borderless mechanism is in place, the need for humanitarian aid and medical assistance in northwestern Syria exceeds what humanitarian organizations can provide.”
Gay noted that the short-term renewal of the border resolution has already created gaps for organizations operating in northwest Syria over the past year, limiting their ability to work on long-term projects and find solutions to the needs of the population. .
According to a Security Council report published in December, only 18% of the $209.5 million (US$1 = €0.93) needed for Syria’s winter response has been funded. This lack of certainty has forced agencies like MSF to scale up their response.
“The future of internally displaced people in northern Syria is difficult to predict, especially if the conflict continues and security for this extremely vulnerable population continues,” he warned.
“Over the past two years, MSF has seen several health facilities and projects downsize or close their doors after losing funding. In this context, MSF had to strengthen its services to fill critical gaps.
“Cutting these services puts the lives of thousands of pregnant women and girls and their newborns at risk or causes the spread of water-borne diseases, including cholera.”
After nearly 12 years of civil war, some 1.8 million people live in camps and slums in rebel-held northwestern Syria, according to the latest UN agency figures. Falling winter temperatures have compounded already dire conditions for the refugees.