NGOs demand UN Security Council Resolution on SyriaThe NGO Forum and Syria INGO Regional Forum, representing 108 organisations operating in Syria, today call on the UN Security Council to draw on the March 5th ceasefire to underscore the urgency of the situation for 4 million civilians in northwest Syria and adopt a resolution to protect civilians and humanitarian workers and put an end to the conflict in Idlib and western Aleppo.
As the conflict enters its 10th year this week, the escalation of violence in Idlib and western Aleppo has turned into one of the worst human catastrophes of the entire war. The current ceasefire offers some respite and a window of opportunity to prevent this humanitarian disaster from unfolding in full.
Almost one million people in northwest Syria have been displaced since December 1st. Many of these people have already witnessed firsthand the impact of the world’s inaction when escaping violence in Aleppo, Eastern Ghouta, Homs, and countless other parts of Syria, and many of them were already displaced within northwest Syria due to ongoing violence from April 2019.
The population in northwest Syria was already vulnerable before the escalation, but now they are even further reliant on assistance to survive in an area that is no longer considered safe. The figures are staggering:
- 60% of displaced individuals are children and 21% are women;
- More than half a million of the newly displaced are sleeping in the open, in tents, or makeshift shelters in the cold;
- 23% of the population report eating one meal a day or less; and
- The presence of unaccompanied children is reported in 91% of assessed communities in Idlib governorate.
Staff from humanitarian organizations are courageously responding to the humanitarian crisis and continue to put their lives on the line, providing aid to those in need, even as they and their families are impacted by the violence and are killed, injured, or become displaced. The humanitarian response is overstretched. Aid agencies struggle to keep up with the pace and scale of the needs while facing challenges such as a lack of resources, overcrowding, difficult terrain, and ongoing insecurity.
The ceasefire that is currently in place offers an opportunity for the UN Security Council to push for protection of the civilian population, safe and sustained humanitarian access, and a long-term political solution to the crisis. The NGO Forum and SIRF, therefore, call on the UN Security Council to adopt a resolution that calls on parties to the conflict:
- Build on the current cessation of hostilities to reach a lasting ceasefire;
- Engage in the political process to bring about an agreement to put an end to the fighting in Syria;
- Ensure the protection of civilians and civilian infrastructure, including protection of humanitarian workers;
- Facilitate the freedom of movement of civilians to locations they deem safe, regardless of lines of control and make sure the forcedly displaced populations return home with full and safe access to services; and
- Facilitate predictable, unfettered, and sustainable humanitarian access through all necessary modalities, including by ensuring that cross-border operations will continue to be possible as long as necessary.
The UN Security Council has a chance now to demonstrate that it places the lives of millions of Syrian civilians above politics. Council Members must take urgent action to demand that the parties to the conflict end the fighting, otherwise they risk once again failing the Syrian people.