UN Seeks $ 10 Billion For Syria As COVID Worsens Refugee Suffering | Conflict News

The United Nations is seeking $ 10 billion in aid to help Syria, saying civilians there continue to face attacks as well as increased hunger and poverty, as the COVID-pandemic 19 exacerbates the “desperation and disaster” of 10 years of civil war.

The call preceded Tuesday’s Brussels Conference on Syria, an annual event co-organized by the UN and the European Union.

It includes $ 4.2 billion for the humanitarian response in Syria and $ 5.8 billion for refugees and their hosts in the Middle East.

The UN has said at least 24 million Syrians are in need of assistance today – an increase of four million over the past year and the highest number on record since 2011, when the president’s crackdown Bashar al-Assad against pro-democracy protesters resulted in a brutal civil war.

“It has been 10 years of desperation and disaster for the Syrians,” said UN aid chief Mark Lowcock.

“Now living conditions are collapsing, economic decline and COVID-19 are leading to more hunger, malnutrition and disease. There is less fighting, but no peace dividend, ”he said in a declaration.

The fighting died down after Russia and Turkey, which back parties opposed to the conflict, agreed to a ceasefire in Idlib, Syria, a year ago. But Russian airstrikes, along with Iranian and Syrian-backed troops, continue to attack rebel outposts.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is due to address the conference on Tuesday.

On March 10, marking a decade of conflict, he declared Syria a “living nightmare” where around half of the country’s children have never lived a day without war and 60% of Syrians are at risk of hunger. .

Peace agreement

In a separate statement on Tuesday, the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement called on international donors to help rebuild Syria, especially repairing essential health, water and electricity services.

“Our infrastructure is in ruins,” said Khaled Hboubati, secretary general of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent Society.

Reconstruction of destroyed cities will require billions more and cannot begin until the powers involved in the conflict, including Russia and Iran, agree to a peace settlement, EU says European.

The head of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Peter Maurer, has urged world powers to strike a peace deal or face many other annual donor conferences for Syria.

“Humanitarians are there to help, but the ultimate responsibility lies with the parties to the conflict,” he said.

On Monday, the top US diplomat urged the divided UN Security Council to open more crossings at the Syrian-Turkish border to bring food and other aid to 13.4 million people in need .

In one passionate speech, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said world powers should be ashamed of their inaction and said the council should also “stop participating or making excuses for attacks” on hospitals and nearby hospitals. authorized crossing point.

In January 2020, at the insistence of Russia, which supports al-Assad, the Security Council voted to reduce the four crossings for humanitarian aid to Syria – from Turkey to the northwest to just two. controlled by the rebels. And in July, again under threat of a Russian veto, the council reduced single border crossing from Turkey.

“Sovereignty was never meant to guarantee the right of any government to starve people, deprive them of life-saving medicines, bomb hospitals or commit any other human rights violation against citizens,” Blinken said. .

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Vershinin, in his own remarks on the video conference, expressed outrage that the al-Assad government was not invited to the Brussels aid conference on Syria.

“There is an increasing politicization of humanitarian aid,” he said.

The proposed cross-border aid “violates the principles of international law” and is solely due to the fact that “the government of the day does not suit” the West, he said.

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