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UN chief: Syrians face dire winter if aid from Turkey is cut



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UN – The head of the United Nations warns in a new report that the already dire humanitarian situation in Syria is getting worse and if aid deliveries from Turkey to the northwest are Insurgent control is not renewed next month, millions of Syrians may not survive the winter.

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a report to the United Nations Security Council obtained by the Associated Press on Monday that cross-border aid to the northwest remains “an integral part” of operations. humanitarian to reach all those in need.

Deliveries across conflicting domestic boundaries, which Syria’s close ally Russia have pressed, have increased, but Guterres said they are no substitute for the “scale or scope of cross-border operations”. of the United Nations”.

Russia has also promoted early recovery projects in Syria, and Guterres said at least 374 projects have taken place across the country since January, directly benefiting more than 665,000 people, but he said. further expansion” is needed.

The Council requested a report from the secretary-general on Syria’s humanitarian needs in a July resolution extending the supply of food, medicine and other necessary aid through the Bab al-Hawa crossing from Turkey to northwestern Idlib for six months until January 1. 10.

Russia has sought to cut cross-border aid, with the aim of eliminating it.

In July 2020, China and Russia vetoed a United Nations resolution to maintain two border points from Turkey for humanitarian aid to northwestern Idlib. A few days later, the supply of aid was reduced to Bab al-Hawa for one year only at their request.

In July 2021, Russia pressed for further reductions, eventually agreeing to a six-month extension with another six months subject to the secretary-general’s report on the progress of cross-border deliveries. But in July this year, Russia insisted on applying for UN permission in just six months.

Strongly calling on Bab al-Hawa to continue receiving UN support, Guterres warned that “stopping cross-border deliveries in the middle of the winter months would risk leaving millions of Syrians without the aid they need.” necessary to endure extreme weather conditions”.

He said cross-border aid “remains a lifeline for millions” and that the Security Council’s renewal of a resolution allowing deliveries to resume is not only “important” but “a moral imperative”. and humanitarian”.

According to his report, 7.5 million people live in areas not under the control of the Syrian government, mainly in the north with a few in Rukban in the southeast and 6.8 million among them. they need humanitarian assistance due to hostilities and mass displacement.

More broadly, Guterres said, “after 11 years of conflict, the country still has the largest number of internally displaced people in the world, causing one of the world’s largest refugee crises and a humanitarian crisis. Religion continues to deteriorate.” “The already dire situation is further complicated by cholera spreading across the country, the COVID-19 pandemic, worsening economy and climate and other human-caused shocks,” he said. .

Due to these challenges, in 2023, 15.3 million people out of a total population of 22.1 million are estimated to need humanitarian assistance, compared with 14.6 million in 2022, the secretary-general said. . “This is the highest level of demand since the start of the conflict” in 2011.

Humanitarian needs data collected by the UN and partners from more than 34,000 households in July and August shows that 85% of households are completely unable or unable to meet basic needs. their, up from 75% in 2021, according to the report.

The report also cited a 48% increase in the rate of severe acute malnutrition among children aged 6 months to 5 years in 2022 compared to 2021. At least 25% of children under 5 years of age in some districts are stunted and risk of irreparable damage to the body. physical and cognitive development as well as “repeated infections, developmental delays, disability and death,” it said.

Secretary-General Guterres said winter weather is expected to worsen the situation for millions of Syrians, and that among the most vulnerable are those in the northwest, who depends on cross-border aid shipments and faces reduced humanitarian conditions due to ongoing hostilities and a “deepening economic downturn”. crisis.”

“Today, in the northwest, 4.1 million people, 80% of whom are women and children, out of a total population of 4.6 million, are estimated to need humanitarian assistance to respond,” he said. their most basic needs.

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