Statement Attributable to the Senior Humanitarian Adviser to the United Nations Special Envoy for Syria on the Humanitarian Situation in Syria

19 Jul 2019

Statement Attributable to the Senior Humanitarian Adviser to the United Nations Special Envoy for Syria on the Humanitarian Situation in Syria

During the International Syria Support Group’s (ISSG) Humanitarian Task Force meeting Thursday, Senior Humanitarian Adviser Najat Rochdi renewed her call to member states to support the UN’s immediate humanitarian priorities. Rochdi highlighted that humanitarian needs are vast across Syria, an estimated 11.7 million people need assistance, 5 million of whom are in acute need.

An alarming intensification of daily violence continues in northwestern Syria. At least 350 civilians are reported to have been killed in recent hostilities in the Idlib de-escalation area. Some 3 million civilians lack protection and face a deteriorating humanitarian situation. More than 330,000 people have been displaced. Some 30,000 people have moved toward government-controlled areas.

Attacks on civilian infrastructure, including health facilities, continue, with reports of 45 incidents impacting 35 health facilities and services already confirmed this year.

I echo the Secretary-General in his condemnation of such attacks, which recently included one of the largest hospitals in Maarat al Numan whose coordinates had been shared with parties to the conflict through the UN de-confliction mechanism.

Strikes against civilians and civilian infrastructure – including de-conflicted health facilities and humanitarian workers - are absolutely unacceptable and may amount to war crimes.

Civilian fatalities and casualties from airstrikes have also been recently reported in the village of Takihi in eastern Deir ez-Zor district.

Even the fight against terrorism must be in full compliance with international human rights and humanitarian law, and perpetrators of serious violations of international law must be brought to justice.

The situation in Al Hol camp in northeastern Syria is unsustainable for the approximately 70,000 people inside the camp, the vast majority of whom are Syrian and Iraqi women and children. The rights and best interests of children must be at the forefront of decision making. I reiterate UNICEF’s recent call for improved humanitarian access and protection of children including re-integration into local communities and safe return to home countries in compliance with international humanitarian law and international norms.

Conditions are also dire in the Rukban settlement. Some 16,600 people have left Rukban, leaving about 25,000 people in the settlement who need humanitarian and protection assistance. The UN continues to be ready to support a principled approach toward durable solutions, including support on transfer and the delivery of needs-based critical humanitarian assistance, including food.

In the south, humanitarian partners have expressed concern over a growing number of security incidents in Daraa and al-Sweida. I call on all relevant parties to stabilise the situation in those areas.

As Senior Humanitarian Adviser to the UN Special Envoy for Syria, I will continue to work with my UN colleagues to exert all efforts to ensure that Syrians receive protection and humanitarian assistance, and that the UN and its partners have safe, regular and sustained humanitarian access to all those in need. I will continue to work with the members of the Humanitarian Task Force, parties to the conflict and key stakeholders in support of their obligations under international humanitarian law.

Geneva, 19 July 2019