Mercy Corps Urges U.N. to Renew Lifeline for Syrians

April 21, 2021

COVAX demonstrates cross-border access is vital for vaccine distribution, aid delivery

AMMAN, Jordan – The arrival of the first COVID vaccines in Syria’s Idlib province this week, amid record levels of human suffering, demonstrates that renewal of UN Security Council resolution 2533 is vital, says the global organization Mercy Corps.

“Cross-border access is the only source of outside aid into Syria’s northwest. Security Council reauthorization would be crucial even without the pandemic,” says Kieren Barnes, Syria Country Director for Mercy Corps. “With minimal or no health services in this region, an effective vaccine response will be contingent upon continued cross-border access.”

Since 2014, the most effective means of providing international assistance to Syrians living in areas outside of the Government of Syria’s control has been under the auspices of a series of United Nations cross-border resolutions. The current resolution, however, is slated to expire in July, and unless the UN Security Council reauthorizes it, millions of Syrians will lose a vital lifeline when they need it most. 

“More than a year into the pandemic, nearly 9 out of 10 Syrians live in poverty. The number of Syrians who lack secure access to food has risen 57% in the past year,” says Barnes. “Letting access lapse could well lead to catastrophic consequences for millions of Syrians. Simply put, lives would be lost.”

As is the case in many countries around the world, vaccines are being distributed in Syria through COVAX, which is part of a broad-based effort designed to ensure fast and fair delivery of COVID vaccines across the planet. 

Mercy Corps is one of the largest international aid organizations operating in Syria, and reached more than a million people with lifesaving and life sustaining assistance last year.