After three years of relative calm in Syria, a slow escalation of violence is threatening to upend the strategic stalemate that has pacified much of the fighting in the country’s eleven-year-old civil war. According to Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Martin Griffiths, shelling, air strikes and clashes in the vicinity of Idlib in early November have destroyed the homes of hundreds of displaced families taking refuge in three camps supported by humanitarian organizations.
“We reiterate our call for a cessation of violence in northwest Syria,” said U.S. Representative to the UN Linda Thomas Greenfield.
“The so-far sporadic incidents between rival factions risk spiraling into widespread fighting. It is incumbent on all sides to agree to and implement a comprehensive, nationwide ceasefire that protects civilians from violence. The United States urges an immediate de-escalation in northern Syria.”
Indeed, the plight of Syria’s civilian population is growing more desperate, said Under-Secretary-General Griffiths. Since the conflict in Syria began in March 2011, 80 per cent of its population depend on aid. This year, 14.6 million Syrians will need humanitarian aid. Next year, this number is expected to rise to over 15 million.
This is “A humanitarian crisis that has … never been more dire. A humanitarian crisis that has been exacerbated by the intensification of violence across the country, the growing cholera outbreak, and the onset of winter,” said Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield.
“The U.S. has delivered on our commitment to fund early recovery activities, including through contributions to the UN Pooled Fund. Between January and September of this year, the UN has worked to program over $500 million toward 374 early recovery projects. These projects were in all 14 governorates of Syria – all 14. There is no denying this represents real progress in early recovery. Over 2.4 million Syrians have directly benefited from this work.”
Cross-border delivery of humanitarian aid is the difference between life and death, said Ambassador Thomas Greenfield. “Its continuation is a moral imperative. … We cannot allow attempts to make noise on issues unrelated to the delivery of humanitarian aid to cloud the clarity of this choice.”