Please see below statement from Refugees International Senior Advocate for the Middle East Jesse Marks:
“One month after the earthquake, the humanitarian response in Northwest Syria remains an unconscionable failure. As the twelfth anniversary of the Syrian Civil War approaches, Syrians in the northwest could now face an even darker chapter as secondary effects of the earthquake and a wholly insufficient response prevent recovery from one of the region’s worst disasters in modern history.
The move in February to approve additional border crossings for UN agencies to bring in aid to the region was a welcome step. But extra crossings are only effective if they are utilized. So far, they are not. While an estimated 557 trucks have crossed into Northwest Syria per day since February 9, less than 20 percent of them have gone through the additional crossings. UN agencies must make full use of the additional crossings to ensure lifesaving aid reaches the most heavily impacted areas in a timely manner.
Further, the UN Security Council must hold an emergency session and pass a resolution calling for an immediate humanitarian pause, unfettered humanitarian access, and indefinite authorizations for all available access points from Turkiye into Syria. In July, continued cross-border aid access will expire. UN cross-border efforts will not just need to be sustained—but need to scale. The Security Council must act now to ensure that can happen, as the known death toll from the earthquake continues to rise.
Finally, as UN agencies set up operations in Northwest Syria, they must respect the role of Syrian civil society who have been at the forefront of the response and ensure that all coordination is done in concert with Syrian first responders. This means that UN agencies should expedite approvals for international teams awaiting permission to enter Northwest Syria to support the recovery response. They must also work harder to ensure that donor funding through the UN earthquake appeal for Syria are quickly deployed to local Syrian first responders and civil society, which remain the first and last line of defense in Northwest Syria.”
For more information and recommendations for a way forward, read “Collapsed Buildings, Crushing Politics: Refugees International Calls for Immediate Humanitarian Pause and Unfettered Aid Access in Northwest Syria.”
To schedule an interview, please contact Refugees International’s Vice President for Strategic Outreach Sarah Sheffer at email@example.com.
Cover Photo: Syrians try to stay warm by a fire near collapsed buildings as people continue their lives in harsh conditions after the earthquake. Photo by Muhammed Said/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images.