This month, the war in Syria has entered its 10th year. It does so in full force, with a humanitarian horror story unfolding in Syria’s Northwest, where people are trapped between armies and borders. With limited means, Cordaid continues to reach out to Syrians. And with whatever strength left, our humanitarians in the field urge warring parties and politicians to ensure safe access to civilians and IDPs and to stop hostilities.
January 2020, Idleb, Syria. ©HFO Project, OCHA
The brutal simplicity of facts and figures
Nine years of war have devastated the Syrian people. According to the most recent humanitarian assessments of the UN:
- the conflict produced more than 5.6 million refugees and 6.1 million internally displaced people;
- more than 11 million people inside Syria require humanitarian assistance, including 4.8 million children;
- up to 70% of the health workforce has left the country;
- nearly 8 million people have no reliable access to food.
Interventions of Syrian partners and Cordaid
With Cordaid support and under extremely difficult circumstances, our Syrian partners such as GOPA-DERD and Caritas Syria continue to respond to the most urgent needs of war-affected communities.
Our interventions include:
- rehabilitating 140 shelters, repairing the sewage system and distributing clean water in Harasta, Eastern Ghouta (rural Damascus);
- providing safe learning spaces by rehabilitating seven schools (two in Aleppo and five in rural Damascus), serving 4200 students;
- rehabilitating and equipping two health centres and providing mental health and psychosocial support services in Eastern Aleppo. Both health centres have a total catchment population of 250,000 people;
- providing cash assistance to 4500 families in Aleppo; 200 other families with girls or women affected by gender-based violence also receive cash support;
- giving lifesaving humanitarian support, including food and hygiene items, to 10,000 displaced people in Northeast Syria.
Humanitarian means for Syria are lacking severely
Relief efforts are effective. They save lives and reduce suffering. That’s why we do whatever we can, with the means we have. But there is only that much we can do. Humanitarian means for the Syrian population are lacking severely. Last year the UN received just over half of the funding that was needed only to support Syrian refugees across the region. Let alone to address the needs inside Syria.
The principle of solidarity
But it takes more than money. Humanitarianism is based on the solidarity principle. This is something we are now painfully reminded of. Europe is closing its borders to many refugees who flee violence and conflict and have no access to essential health care. Many of those who have entered Europe try to survive in camps, like the ones in Lesbos, where the Coronavirus is becoming a nightmare. At the same time, Europeans are grappling with the Corona crisis themselves. To all Europeans – including European decision-makers – who are creating food stocks, looking for hand sanitisers and face masks and planning to stay away from infected areas, we would like to say: never turn your back on people who flee war and famine.
Syria needs our support. We need to stand by Syrians. Above all, Syria needs a political solution that ends the protracted destruction of its society and its population.
Work in progress
This picture gallery illustrates some of the work that is being done right now.
Sewage rehabilitation in Harasta, Eastern Ghouta (rural Damascus)
Rehabilitation of health centres in Eastern Aleppo, Sheikh Said – Hullok
Household shelter rehabilitation in Harasta, Eastern Ghouta (rural Damascus)