Syria. Failure to renew the last humanitarian corridor could lead to a humanitarian catastrophe for millions of people

Members of the UN Security Council must renew their term before it expires, set for July 10, by a resolution establishing a cross-border aid system that would allow aid to be distributed to at least four million residents. And displaced people in northwestern Syria, Amnesty International said on July 5.

In his new report titled ‘Unbearable Living’: Inadequate access to economic and social rights in northwestern Syrian displacement campsAmnesty International shows in detail that the Syrian government denies or obstructs the access of the displaced people to economic and social rights, living in very difficult conditions in the camps, in extreme vulnerability and relying entirely on international aid for their survival.

About 1.7 million people are currently living in camps in northwestern Syria; 58% of them are children and there is no chance of their sustainable solution. The majority of these people have been living in tents for years, with no or very limited access to water and sanitation, which increases the risk of waterborne diseases. These women, men and children live in the greatest deprivation and depend entirely on the help provided by humanitarian agencies for their survival.

“Many of these displaced women, men and children have been living in utter poverty in northwestern Syria for more than six years. They are less likely to return home due to persistent violations by Syrian authorities, but living conditions in these camps are very difficult and they are at risk of becoming ill and engaging in gender-based violence. “Amnesty International’s acting deputy director for North Africa and the Middle East,” said Diana Seyman.

“Since losing control of the country’s northwest, the government has cut off electricity and water supplies, disrupted aid distribution and attacked camps, medical facilities and schools, removing the burden of providing these services to humanitarian agencies. The only effective way to provide assistance is to renew the cross-border assistance system.

Amnesty International conducted a study from February to May 2022 to compile its report, which showed that people living in the camps were mainly deprived of adequate housing, water, sanitation and food in Idlib. The agency interviewed a total of 45 people, including medical and humanitarian workers, in addition to displaced men and women living in the area.

The UN Guidelines for Internal Displacement state that displaced persons have the same rights as any other person living in a particular country, including the right to adequate living. These rights must include, at a minimum, access to the following services: “basic food and drinking water; shelter and accommodation; modest clothing; and necessary medical services and sanitation facilities.”

Lack of water and inadequate housing

More than half of the displaced people in northwestern Syria live in 1,414 camps, mostly in one-room tents that have no strong doors or locks and do not provide protection from the scorching heat and cold in the region, violating the right to live under international law. Displaced people get water mainly through community water tanks, but the amount they get is less than half of what they need. Only 40% of IDPs have access to running latrines.

A woman who has lived in a camp for three years with her husband and five children says: “I live in a tent where there is only one house. I have set up a small cooking station and a thin mattress that covers the rest of the house that we use day and night because this is our only place. I do everything in this single room: I sleep there, I cook there, I wash my clothes there, I wash there, I do everything there. No door. We use a blanket that we roll to get in and out of the tent. Anyone can enter. Who can feel safe in a tent? No one. A

He added: “We are always running out of water. Like today where we have no water. Community Cistern is empty. I can’t afford water. Others may, but I can’t. I take something from my neighbors so I can drink enough for my kids and myself. We have to wait for the company to come and meet the sisters, which they do twice a week, I believe. It’s better than nothing. A

It is imperative that the UN Security Council renew its approval of this process before the July 10 deadline.

Diana Seman, Amnesty International

People living in these camps have told Amnesty International that it is difficult to keep them warm every winter, protect their tents and belongings from dampness, and make daily tasks such as fetching water and going to the latrine difficult. And difficult to pass due to heavy rains and floods. In addition, they are forced to burn plastic, wood or any other combustible material inside the tent to stay warm in winter, a practice that caused at least 68 fires in 2022.

In an interview with Amnesty International, health workers said that camp tents pose a health risk because they contribute to the spread of infectious diseases. He further said that water borne diseases are spreading due to poor quality water and sewerage system.

Gender-based violence

Aid workers told Amnesty International that the overcrowding, lack of privacy, lack of fencing around the camp, inability to lock tents and exclusion from the decision-making process revealed a range of gender-based violence against women and girls, including violence by family members, camps. Leaders, residents, strangers and aid workers too.

One such person explained: “In northwestern Syria, especially in the camps, there is every kind of gender-based violence that can be imagined. These include verbal harassment from male family members, physical abuse, rape and sexual abuse by male family members. A

The configuration and location of latrines and communal toilets, mostly set up without the advice of women in the camps, contribute to this risk of gender-based violence. This problem is exacerbated by the lack of light, the absence of locking doors, as well as a mixture of latrines placed in isolated places.

One aid worker said: “Women go to the toilet in groups or with a relative. At night, they don’t want to wander around alone, so if no one goes with them, they use temporary toilets or stay stuck until morning. A

Reduced aid and limited healthcare

Since the beginning of the armed conflict, the Syrian government has continued to attack the healthcare system in northwestern Syria and obstruct the delivery of medical aid, which has severely affected the right to health of millions of people.

The decline in international aid over the past year has severely affected the livelihoods of residents and displaced people in northwestern Syria, with staff, drugs, equipment and operational capacity reduced, forcing medical structures to reduce or shut down their activities. , Which was still vital.

Need for sustainable solutions

In recent years, donors and humanitarian organizations have become increasingly unable to provide adequate access to essential services to people living in camps due to inadequate funding. Moreover, with chronic crises, their interventions have often continued to focus more on emergency assistance to save lives rather than sustainable and long-term solutions.

One aid worker explained: “What is disturbing is that we never try to address the root causes of the health, safety, and other problems we see in the camps. For example, we know very well what causes leishmaniasis [une maladie d’origine hydrique]. We allocate funds each year for the treatment of this disease, instead of working to connect the camps with sources of drinking water, to stop the tracking of water, and to create a drainage system for the water used. A good old method is no longer enough for an emergency health response. We need to add other approaches to get sustainable solutions. A

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