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The world must not grow numb to the suffering of the Syrian people - UNOCHA

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Deputy UN humanitarian chief visits Syria, calls for increased resources

Damascus, 18 May 2022 - Joyce Msuya, the Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, today concluded a three-day visit to Syria, her first official mission to the region since she assumed her functions. During the visit, Msuya met with affected families and renewed the United Nations’ commitment to helping those in need, urging donors to not let Syria become a forgotten crisis.

“After more than a decade of conflict, there is no respite for civilians in Syria,” said Msuya. “It was of utmost importance to me to visit the communities bearing the brunt of this crisis and to hear from the humanitarian teams working on the ground to help millions of vulnerable people across the country.”

On 17 May, the Assistant Secretary-General traveled to Homs, where she visited projects supported by the Syria Humanitarian Fund, a country-based fund managed by the UN in Syria and where donors pool their donations.

"I was struck by the courage and incredible resilience of Syrian people and in particular the women I met, though they are among the most affected. During my visit, I met a mother of three who has recently returned to Homs after eight years of displacement. She is slowly rebuilding her life, thanks to the support she is receiving through the Syria Humanitarian Fund. Her story and those of many other strong Syrian women and men are what I wish to relay to the world. We owe them a voice.”

Some 14.6 million people need humanitarian assistance this year - a nine per cent increase over 2021 and the highest number since the conflict began in 2011. Of these, 6.5 million are children.

In northwest Syria, where cross-border assistance remains a lifeline, 4.1 million people need aid and protection. Food insecurity remains extremely high across the country, affecting an estimated 12 million people.

There are today 6.9 million internally displaced persons in Syria and 5.6 million Syrian refugees in the neighbouring countries and beyond. Needs are growing for those displaced, but also for communities who have welcomed them. Gender-based violence and risks to the safety of children have increased during the past year. Hostilities continue to affect civilians, including women and children. Inside Syria, the risk of exposure to explosive remnants of war remains very high in areas that have sustained or continue to experience peaks of intense hostilities, with one in two people estimated to be at risk.

Driving the numbers up are a deepening economic crisis, ongoing displacement and climatic shocks, especially drought, as well as the impact of a decade of conflict which has damaged or destroyed much of the country’s public infrastructure and services.

People are struggling to meet basic needs, with a disproportionate impact on female-headed households, older persons without family support, persons with disabilities and children. Families are increasingly forced into negative ways of coping, including child labour, child marriage and the sale of productive assets.

Syria remains one of the largest humanitarian response operations in the world, with assistance delivered to 7.3 million people per month in the past year.

To date, the humanitarian response planned for 2022, requesting US$ 4.4 billion, is only nine per cent funded. More than 14 million people in Syria will lack critical aid, basic services and means for recovery this year if new funding is not provided. It is critical that the generous pledges announced in Brussels be converted into early disbursals of funding.

"The Syria crisis is not over and Syria should not be forgotten. Securing funds to help people cope and rebuild their lives and greater access to reach more people in need are crucial,” Msuya said. In her exchanges with stakeholders, Msuya highlighted the importance of partnerships and commended the excellent work carried out by all humanitarian actors on the ground.

During her trip, Msuya met the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Faisal Mekdad and Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Bashar Jafari. She discussed with them possible ways to expand humanitarian access to reach communities in need, protect civilians and help affected Syrians envision a better future.

Msuya will travel to Jordan next for a two-day visit during which she is expected to meet with government officials, humanitarian partners and donors.

For further information, please contact:

In Syria: Olga Cherevko, cherevko@un.org

In Geneva: Jens Laerke, laerke@un.org

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs: To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.