Syria: ‘A dozen different powder kegs’

A woman feeding twigs to a heater to warm her house in rural Damascus.
© UNICEF/Hasan Belal
A woman feeding twigs to a heater to warm her house in rural Damascus.
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Najat Rochdi, UN Deputy Special Envoy for Syria, told ambassadors at the Security Council that Israeli airstrikes hit Damascus airport this weekend, following several other airstrikes and artillery fire on locations across the country, reportedly killing one civilian airport worker.

She added that the airstrikes coincided with reports of rocket and missile launches from southern Syria over the Occupied Syrian Golan towards Israel.

“The IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) claims that a drone strike in Eilat in southern Israel came from an organization in Syria, against which the IDF says it carried out airstrikes in response,” Ms. Rochdi said.

Do not play with fire

Within Syria, the 12-year-long conflict continued unabated, with airstrikes, bombardment, clashes and assassination attempts in several places, she added, underscoring the urgent need of de-escalation and urging a renewed on the political process.

“To continue such violence is to play with fire. Just one miscalculation – one stray artillery shell or misjudged airstrike – could ignite a dozen different powder kegs that lie within Syrian borders,” Ms. Rochdi said.

“We need more than just good intentions: we need sustained de-escalation operationalized through robust channels between all stakeholders. We need the killing, injuring and displacement of civilians, and the destruction of infrastructure not just to decrease, but to end.”

Political solution vital

The senior UN official also underscored the importance of a credible and comprehensive approach to a political solution, one that puts all issues of concern on the table.

“Attention on Syria has ebbed somewhat given the terrible crisis in the region. But Syria is a piece of that puzzle too. And the situation in Syria is too dangerous to be left unattended,” she said.

“If we do not give the Syrian parties and people a horizon of hope and a political path to resolving their conflict, I fear that the situation will boil over again and again, spilling across a region that is already in a moment of historical crisis”, she added.

Edem Wosornu, Director of Operations at OCHA, briefs the Security Council meeting on Syria.
UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe
Edem Wosornu, Director of Operations at OCHA, briefs the Security Council meeting on Syria.

Funding at unprecedented lows

Also briefing the Security Council, Edem Wosornu, Director of Operations at the UN aid coordination office, OCHA, highlighted the plight of millions of displaced people in Syria, worsened by the approaching winter.

“The lack of protection against cold temperatures poses significant health risks, particularly for vulnerable segments of the population such as children and the elderly,” she said.

According to UN estimates, 5.7 million people across Syria need critical shelter assistance to help them through the cold winter months. Inadequate shelter, lack of proper heating and insufficient clothing and household items are among their most pressing needs.

Ms. Wosornu said that humanitarians are trying their best to meet and prioritize these needs, amid limited resources.

Support needed now

“We have so far provided 26,000 families with dignified shelters, with efforts ongoing to provide similar support to another 7,000 families. But we are facing a troubling 70 per cent shortfall in the funds required to deliver this vital support.”

She informed Council members that with just one month left in the year, the Humanitarian Response Plan for Syria is only 33 per cent funded.

“I cannot overstate the impact this lack of resources is having on our ability to meet the needs of millions of people in desperate need throughout Syria,” she added, calling for more donor support to save lives and stem a further, catastrophic, deterioration in the humanitarian situation.

© UN News (2023) — All Rights ReservedOriginal source: UN News