Takoma Park, Maryland — One month after the adoption of Security Council resolution 2139, assessments show that progress on humanitarian access in Syria has been very limited.
Assessments estimate that more than 3.5 million people are still cut off from food and medication, say eight aid agencies. When the United Nations Security Council takes stock of progress on humanitarian access this Friday, they have to be honest about the lack of progress. The Council needs to act to ensure that this resolution is implemented immediately to provide life-saving aid to millions of Syrians.
“I talk with my family and friends, who are still trapped inside Syria almost every day," said a refugee volunteer in Jordan. "They do not have access to food or medication. People are starving to death. One of our neighbors has fallen into a diabetic coma, because she could not access insulin anymore."
According to the UN, more than 9.3 million people are in desperate need of humanitarian aid inside Syria. “Dedicated aid agencies are ready to cross battle lines, borders, rivers and mountains – whatever is required to end the human suffering in Syria," said Jan Egeland, Secretary General of the Norwegian Refugee Council. "There is no excuse for not facilitating a lot more cross-border aid operations."
“Behind the headlines are people inside Syria for whom this war is a bitter, daily reality," said Thierry-Mehdi Benlahsen, Regional Emergency Coordinator Handicap International. "This crisis might appear complex in political terms, but is dramatically simpler in humanitarian ones. Through humanitarian assistance we cannot stop this war, but we can reduce people’s suffering and dying in the absence of a peaceful political solution. The UN Security Council needs to strengthen the implementation of the resolution including detailed monitoring mechanisms and ensure that much needed humanitarian assistance reaches the people trapped inside Syria."
More than 9 million people have fled their homes and remain displaced within Syria or to neighboring countries three years after the crisis started.
“The growing plight of millions of Syrians underscores the importance of making UNSC resolution 2139 a success," said Mark Schnellbaecher, Regional Director of the International Rescue Committee. "Every day that passes without progress on humanitarian access, is the worst day yet for Syrians struggling to survive."
International aid agencies welcome the fact that the UN was able to send an aid convoy from Turkey to Syria bringing additional humanitarian assistance to so far provided only by NGOs, however this is a small step and much more access is needed. In the past weeks insecurity continued to interrupt aid distributions, and access remains highly constrained as violence is ongoing across the country. In neighbouring countries, the numbers of refugees arriving has been increasing during March because of increasing insecurity. The number of newly arrived refugees in Jordan per month is the highest number this year.
“Syria cannot remain a symbol for humanitarian and political failure," said Roger Hearn, Save the Children’s Regional Director. "The UN Security Council needs to ensure the resolution is implemented and becomes a reality on the ground for the millions of Syrians in need Syrian children cannot wait any longer.”