UN relief official tells Security Council that Syria is ‘stuck in a downward spiral’


Martin Griffiths, who is also the Emergency Relief Coordinator, briefed Security Council, After visiting the area at the end of last month.

He highlighted the growing needs, persistent problems in accessing hard-to-reach areas, and the need for adequate funding for the response.

“Constructive discussions”

for mr. GriffithHis visit provided an opportunity for “frank and constructive discussions”, including in Damascus with the foreign minister and his deputy. And in Ankara with the presidential spokesman and Turkish Deputy Foreign Minister.

His main conclusion was that “the humanitarian needs in Syria are greater than they have ever been.”

An estimated 13.4 million people across the country require humanitarian assistance; An increase of 21 percent over the previous year and the highest since 2017.

Even with those numbers, Mr. Griffiths said, “the lived reality is more dire than the numbers can describe.”

There I spoke with women, men and children about the profound effects of more than ten years of conflict. The children asked for help with learning, access to health care and fuel to survive the coming winter.

He noted, “Families headed by women talked about the challenges they face in finding an income, and almost none of them had that income, as well as for their families to survive.”

Billions more are needed

The Humanitarian Response Plan in SyriaAt $4.2 billion a year, it is the largest and most expensive globally, but only 27 percent of the response is funded. More than a quarter of people in need have the opportunity to have their needs met through this humanitarian process.

“Even if this total increases in the coming months, through donor responsiveness and generosity – which I hope will happen – the funding is not keeping pace with the growing needs of the Syrians. This is a basic and objective fact,” said the relief chief.

He also asked the UN and partners to do “more and more” to put people in Syria on the path to recovery, including new programs focused on early recovery. Currently, only 10 percent of the comprehensive humanitarian response plan goes to early recovery, he said.

peace and security

His visit to Damascus coincided with continuing tensions in southern Syria, particularly around the Daraa al-Balad neighborhood, where 36,000 people were recently displaced.

He welcomed the latest agreement, saying that “the ceasefire is an important development”, but stressed the need to know whether it will hold or not.

The head of humanitarian affairs believes that “need and suffering will continue to grow in the near term,” but said he came back with “a renewed commitment and conviction to identify, develop and invest in sustainable and effective ways of assistance.”

He acknowledged the complexity of the task, but said the council members and the countries they represent owed it to the people of Syria.

“They are still suffering, and the future of those children that I met in that classroom in Aleppo is still uncertain, and it is our duty to make some kind of solace in that future,” he concluded.

A girl and woman walk near destroyed buildings in the city of Maarat al-Numan in Idlib, Syria.

© UNICEF / Giovanni Diffidenti

A girl and woman walk near destroyed buildings in the city of Maarat al-Numan in Idlib, Syria.

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