“I hope they are soon, because if not, this is another missed opportunity to help the conflict in Syria to end the negotiationsat a time when the impact of the crisis is deepening,” said Geir Pedersen, informing the Security Council.
While there have been positive humanitarian actions after the devastating earthquakes in February, it is disappointing that the cross-border relief operations of the UN, which provoked a veto by Russia and a failure to agree on any resolution two weeks ago, will not be expanded, he told the ambassadors.
“How are the Syrians supposed to believe that some broader development is possible, and how are they supposed to be motivated to overcome their own deep differences, if the consensus on humanitarian principles of the international parties is not understood?”
Five foreign armies
“Syria remains divided territorially with Syrian society also divided on many issues”, said Mr. Pedersen, who announced the presence of five foreign armies in the country.
“This month has seen airstrikes attributed to Israel, reports of drone attacks in Turkey, reports of pro-Government airstrikes north of Aleppo, and the US saying it carried out drone strikes on an ISIL leader near al-Bab.”
Civilians continue to be injured and killed, amid violent clashes, regular exchanges of mortar, rocket and artillery fire in northeastern and northwestern Syria, he added.
Ask to be proactive
Called by Mr. Pedersen the Government of Syria to actively work with the UN on a political path out of the conflict, and also emphasized the need for “constructive and united international diplomacy”.
“The more you work together despite your differences, the more you can encourage and support Syrians to do the same,” he urged the 15-member Council.
The situation is getting worse
Ramesh Rajasingham, Director of Coordination for the UN aid coordination wing OCHA, informed the ambassadors of the letter received by his office from the Government of Syria giving permission to the UN to use the Bab al-Hawa crossing to provide aid to the northwest.
He said that the humanitarians continue to interact with the Government in the terms set out in the letter and the necessary requirements that OCHA must continue to act, guided by the humanitarian principles of humanity, impartiality, neutrality and independence.
Across Syria, he continued, conditions continue to worsen, with the price of essential food commodities soaring by more than 90 percent by 2023, putting basic food and other essentials beyond the reach of millions of families.
Aid to up to 40 percent of them, or 2.5 million people, was halted this month due to a lack of funding.
– Ramesh Rajasingham, OCHA
Across the country, nearly 12 million people – more than half the population – do not have enough to eat and a further 2.9 million are at risk of starvation.
In the northwest of the country, extreme heat is putting lives at risk with more than 40 fires reported from the period between 15 to 17 July alone.
“Despite these serious vulnerabilities, the 2023 Humanitarian Response Plan for Syria is only 12.4 percent funded,” he added, warning that without urgent funding, humanitarians will have to make “difficult choices again this year”.
“To give you an example of what this means in practice: Food aid beneficiaries currently receive only 50 percent of the standard ration size. In addition, aid to up to 40 percent of them – or 2.5 million people – has been stopped this month due to funding shortfalls,” warned the UN relief official.