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Press Release

David Miliband of the International Rescue Committee ahead of UNSC meeting on Syria

David Miliband, President and CEO of the International Rescue Committee, said, “The UN Security Council will meet today on Syria, just ahead of a vote which will either ensure millions of Syrians can access life-saving aid or lead to large-scale, unnecessary suffering. Council Members should look at the reality on the ground, based on firm evidence, not political positioning, to guide their action. Since the Council last voted on this resolution, UN figures show the number of people in need across Syria has grown by millions.

“Needs have increased the most in the North East, where UN cross-border access ended following a Security Council vote in January 2020. Since then, the IRC and other NGOs have experienced chronic shortages of essential supplies including medicines and reproductive health kits. As the UN Secretary-General noted in March, ‘there is not enough aid of all sorts reaching North East Syria.’

“Coming just before the COVID-19 outbreak, the Yarubiyah closure eliminated a timely and direct route for assistance to people in the North East. The result? The COVID-19 response has been nearly paralysed. Health workers lack resources for testing, PPE and oxygen-- supplies which could be provided through Yarubiyah if reauthorised.

“The Secretary General called on Council Members to authorise cross-border access to the North East if alternative routes cross-line are ineffective. Since then we have heard the Secretary-General confirm it is currently impossible to replicate the cross-border operation with cross-line assistance. Syrians are paying the price for the Council’s decisions.

“In the North West, with only one crossing remaining, humanitarians are unable to meet rising needs. The closure of Bab al Salam means aid must now travel across multiple checkpoints and an area that still faces conflict activity, leading to persistent delays. The future of the UN-led COVID-19 vaccine campaign for millions also rests on the cross-border response. I echo the Secretary General’s clear warning that the grave risk posed by COVID-19 requires using every possible means of reaching people in need.

“Last year, 101 UN Member States voted for the Council to reauthorise Bab al Salam and Yarubiyah after only one crossing was renewed in July. We echo that call for the Security Council to reauthorise, for 12 months, UN access through Bab al Hawa and Bab al Salam in the North West, and through Al Yarubiyah in the North East. Anything short of that is unconscionable and abandons Syrians who need and deserve support regardless of where they live. The case is clear. Now is the time for action.”

About the IRC

The International Rescue Committee responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises, helping to restore health, safety, education, economic wellbeing, and power to people devastated by conflict and disaster. Founded in 1933 at the call of Albert Einstein, the IRC is at work in over 40 countries and 29 U.S. cities helping people to survive, reclaim control of their future and strengthen their communities. Learn more at www.rescue-uk.org and follow the IRC on Twitter & Facebook.