Aid Agencies Condemn Lapse of Syria Cross-Border Resolution
Statement on behalf of the Syria INGO Regional Forum (SIRF), NGO Forum, Syrian Networks League (SNL), and Syrian NGO Alliance (SNA):
Today, the United Nations Security Council resolution that ensures humanitarian aid reaches millions of people in Syria lapsed as the reauthorization deadline passed, marking a bleak moment in the Council’s 75-year history. For the people of northwest Syria, after more than nine years of conflict, multiple displacements and as they brace for the COVID-19 pandemic with the first case confirmed this week, the prospect of the departure of the UN’s humanitarian agencies must be truly terrifying.
Members of the Security Council have put politics above the lives of Syrians in urgent need of the most basic assistance to ensure their survival. It is a shameful failure which if not resolved urgently will ultimately result in further and entirely unnecessary loss of life.
There is no comparable alternative to cross-border aid to reach the four million people in Syria who have been relying on assistance formerly authorized by this resolution. While all modalities are needed, the UN Secretary-General’s reports on Syria’s cross-border operations have repeatedly found that cross-line assistance remains woefully insufficient to meet the urgent and increasing scale of needs due the dire economic woes in the country which have led to skyrocketing basic food costs. For the northwest, it is clear there has never been a functional option aside from cross-border operations. If the UN Security Council is unable to agree on a way forward to ensure the resolution is passed urgently, it will result in the denial of humanitarian assistance to millions, mostly women and children, and in a time where a scale up in the response to COVID-19 is so urgently needed.
Without the resolution NGOs will struggle to even begin to fill the enormous void left by the UN, which coordinated the multi-million dollar aid operation, bore much of the risk of getting aid to people caught up in one of the most complex conflicts of our time, and helped to mobilise much of the funding to keep the aid pipeline open. This is another unacceptable example of UN Security Council Member States putting politics above principled humanitarian action, and above the Syrian people themselves.
Security Council members must urgently reconvene, re-authorise cross-border humanitarian assistance and stop playing politics with people’s lives.
Mercy Corps is a member of Syria INGO Regional Forum and the NGO forum.