This is my first briefing to this Council as Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator. I look forward to engaging closely with all of you.
A few days ago, the United Nations and its humanitarian partners released our evidence-based assessment of humanitarian needs in the Syrian Arab Republic for the coming year.
The conclusions are clear. And they paint a very bleak picture.
More people are in need than at any time since the conflict began. A total of 14.6 million people will depend on humanitarian aid.
This is 9% more than last year and 32% more than the previous year.
The world is failing the Syrian people. This cannot be our strategy.
Hostilities, mainly along the front lines, continue to cause civilian casualties and damage to essential civilian infrastructure, such as hospitals, schools and water supply facilities. Some 40 other civilians were killed in January alone.
Mines and explosive devices cause other deaths, including the lives of children.
Hostilities also restrict freedom of movement. This, in turn, puts women and children at greater risk of abuse.
As we saw last month with the attack on a prison in Al Hasakah, we continue to see the incredibly precarious situation of hundreds of children who remain in detention centers and camps. They should never have been there in the first place. They need protection. They need services. And they need hope for the future. It is high time to act.
Syria now ranks among the 10 most food insecure countries in the world, with 12 million people considered food insecure.
The Syrian economy continues its downward spiral. Food is getting more and more expensive and people are going hungry.
Over the past year, the cost of feeding a family of five for a month on just the most basic items has nearly doubled.
A household today spends on average 50% more than it earns. To get by, families have to borrow money with little hope of repaying those loans.
This follows a trend of an ever-increasing financial burden on families.
And that forces them to make unbearable choices.
Children, especially girls, are taken out of school. Child marriages are on the rise.
Female-headed households, older people without family support, people with disabilities and children are disproportionately affected.
We are scaling up early recovery programs this year – I know USG Griffiths has also informed you of this recently. Our 2022 Humanitarian Response Plan is about to be finalized, and we expect around a quarter of the total appeal will be directed towards increasing resilience and access to basic services – a significant increase from compared to last year.
We will focus in part on revitalizing access to certain basic services, such as water.
But we need more support, and we count on the generosity of donors to achieve this. The positive facilitation of different parts of our efforts is essential.
Millions of people in northwestern Syria depend on our support to survive.
The winter has made people’s suffering worse, especially for the millions of people living in tents.
Through our cross-border operations, we deliver food, medicine and other essentials every month. We support the delivery of essential services.
We do all of this in a transparent and principled manner.
Last year, we also expanded access to northwest Syria by restarting cross-cutting operations.
In December and January, after a new distribution system was put in place, cross-cutting aid began to reach people in need.
We have a plan in place for additional deliveries. We are ready to move.
What we need now is the support of all parties involved to enable these cross-cutting missions to move forward.
Let me reiterate, however, that there is no alternative in place today that can match the scale and scope of the massive United Nations cross-border operation, providing food, vaccines and other life-saving aid to 2.4 million people.
Syrians have suffered for so long. They deserve a better future.
They now need help to survive, but that shouldn’t be the case.
They need a chance to build a dignified life for themselves and their families.
And they must be able to give their children hope for a better future.
To achieve this, we need sustainable and reliable access. We need more funding. And we must scale up early recovery programs alongside our rescue work.
But above all, the Syrians need peace.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.