Concluding a seven-day visit to Syria, Lebanon and Turkey – his first official mission to the region since assuming the role of United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator – Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Martin Griffiths, stressed that “the UN must be able to reach the people who depend on its aid both from Turkey and from inside Syria”.
“Humanitarians and donors must keep Syria at the top of our collective agenda to prevent an entire generation from being lost,” he stressed.
1. In Gaziantep, I visited a @UNmigration-Supported center where I met Syrian refugees and members of the Turkish host community.
This is Mohammed, a 23-year-old Syrian refugee who arrived in Turkey as a child. Instead of going to school, he had to work in a restaurant to support his family. pic.twitter.com/aEXUCpiwpQ
– Martin Griffiths (@UNReliefChief) September 3, 2021
Expanding humanitarian access
In meetings with the Syrian Foreign Minister and his deputy, Griffiths stressed the need to expand humanitarian access, protect civilians and help Syrians envision a future for themselves.
His visit coincided with the first cross-cutting humanitarian operation in northwestern Syria since 2017, which he hailed as an important step in reaching more people in need with critical assistance.
While traveling to Damascus via the United Nations Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS), Mr. Griffiths held constructive meetings with senior government officials and the humanitarian community, including the Syrian Arab Red Crescent and Red Crescent Societies. , among others.
And in Beirut, he met with donors and discussed with the Deputy Prime Minister and the humanitarian country team the growing needs of the country, including a serious fuel crisis that is putting health care at risk. and drinking water.
During his visit, the humanitarian chief announced an allocation of $ 4 million from the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) to support an increased supply of fuel for the continued operation of essential services.
Meanwhile, the UN and partners have developed the 2021-2022 Emergency Response Plan for Lebanon to provide life-saving humanitarian assistance to 1.1 million Lebanese and most vulnerable migrants affected by the crisis. current.
The $ 378.5 million humanitarian plan complements the United Nations Palestinian Refugee Programs (UNRWA) and the Lebanon Crisis Response Plan, which also includes Syrian refugees and the communities hosting them.
On the last leg of his trip, Griffiths visited Turkey where he met the presidential spokesman, deputy foreign minister and others.
In Hatay province, on the Turkish-Syrian border, he visited a humanitarian transshipment center to observe UN cross-border operations in Syria, where the Organization sends 1,000 trucks of food, medicine and equipment every month. other vital aid to millions in desperate need, cut off by hostilities.
Stopping in Gaziantep, the westernmost part of the Anatolian region, he spoke with Syrian refugees and host communities, while in Aleppo he visited projects supported by the Humanitarian Fund. United Nations Conference for Syria and spoke with Syrians about the profound effects of more than a decade of conflict.
“I have met people in Aleppo whose lives had been completely turned upside down by the long Syrian crisis,” Griffiths said.
As Syria’s economic decline continues to worsen already staggering levels of impoverishment, the UN official has listened to communities pleading for support to start their lives anew.
“All expressed the desire to feel safe, but in particular they asked for access to basic services: health care, water, electricity and fuel to warm up in winter,” he said. “Children want to learn and young adults want to work. They want support to forge their own dignified path to a better future ”.
Missing the mark
So far, the UN and its partners have received only 27% of the funding needed for its 2021 humanitarian response plan for Syria, which targets $ 4.2 billion.
And the $ 5.8 billion Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan aims to help more than 5.5 million Syrian refugees and host communities in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey and is only 19 percent funded.