With 6.5 million citizens forced from their homes, Syria currently contains 20 percent of the total number of internally displaced people worldwide. These Syrians are living in a state of deprivation and extreme poverty; at least 2.5 million were denied water by opposition groups, and about 90,000 people lack imperative medical assistance.
Obviously, this is not the time for faltering or delayed humanitarian assistance.
However, the U.N. Council aid resolution adopted in February has not had the desired effect in Syria. This resolution called for the demilitarization of Syrian schools and hospitals, as well as direct humanitarian access to the displaced and impoverished inside the country.
Since the resolution was adopted, a report released by the U.N. Security Council revealed, “None of the parties to the conflict have adhered to the demands of the Council.” According to this report, aid agencies were only able to reach about 7 percent of the people living in besieged areas.
The barrier to delivery of aid in Syria comes from a combination of active conflict and bureaucratic hurdles. The Syrian government refused to grant U.N. aid agencies permission to cross the country’s borders. Additionally, getting aid to displaced Syrians involves bypassing front lines guarded by armed rebel forces. Despite the legally binding resolution passed by the U.N., these opposition groups are continually blocking medical and food aid.
In the words of U.N. Official Valerie Amos, “These are all violations of the most basic principles of international humanitarian and human rights law.”
Despite the setbacks involved with the February resolution, the U.N. is committed to increasing the amount of aid reaching the war victims in Syria. Officials state they plan to vet smaller agencies that operate in new parts of the country to provide aid in Syria, and they hope to enlarge donor funding in order to more easily access “hard-to-reach areas.”
Initially, the U.N. secretary general Ban Ki-moon requested $6.5 billion in donations for food, water, medical care and shelter for Syrian civilians. But since his January statement, this number has undoubtedly risen as a result of the aid delivery barriers.
In order to remedy the dire humanitarian situation in Syria, the U.N. must radically scale up aid efforts. This goal, although lofty, is achievable through the advocacy of the U.N. officials like Amos and Ki-moon, as well as all world powers.
— Grace Flaherty