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OCHA Operations Director on Syria
In April, the World Food Programme (WFP) was forced to suspend its food deliveries to 600, 000 people in Raqaa and Dier ez-Zor governorates, two Islamic State (IS) controlled areas. Despite the challenges, throughout the month, agencies were able to deliver food to some 277,550 people in hard-to-reach areas and four million others across the country. “We must support unhindered and unrestricted food transport across front lines; this will ensure food now available in one part of the country reaches Syrians wherever they are in the country,“ said WFP Executive Director Ertharin Cousin. Photo: WFP/Abeer Etefa.
For the eleventh month in a row, an IS blockade stopped UNICEF from sending water treatment supplies to Dier ez-Zor and Raqqa governorates. When the Nasib border crossing between Syria and Jordan was closed -- after the opposition group known as the Syrian Free Army took over the area -- UNICEF was unable to treat 500,000 liters of water. Photo: UNICEF.
Health centres and health workers are often targeted by shelling and air strikes in Syria. Since conflict broke out in March 2011, 633 medical personnel have been killed according to the NGO Physicians for Human Rights. Additionally, requests to deliver medical supplies are often refused. In April, the World health Organization (WHO) requested to send 2,000 renal failure treatments to Douma through an inter-agency convoy but the Government granted permission for only 250 of them. Sadly, the convoy was hit by a mortar in Douma, killing a 19-year-old Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) volunteer and injuring three others. Photo: SARC.
In April, UN agencies and partners, along with the Syrian Ministry of Health, carried out the first measles immunization campaign of the year. The campaign was able to reach 1.6 million children out of 2.6 million targeted, in 11 governorates. However, Raqqa, Idlib and large parts of Dier ez-Zor could not be reached with measles vaccinations due to active fighting, leaving some 230,000 young children without immunization in those areas.
Since 2011, immunization rates across the country have fallen from 99 per cent to just 52 per cent due to lack of access and severe damage to health structures: nearly one third of the country’s health centres are either damaged or destroyed. Photo: UNICEF.
Cross-border deliveries continued under the terms of UN Security Council resolutions 2165 and 2191, adopted in 2014. Between 15 December 2014 and 14 May 2015, the United Nations requested 44 inter-agency convoys; of those, only five were completed. In early April, the Nasib border crossing with Jordan was closed, which has been severely disrupting humanitarian and commercial deliveries to the southern part of the country. UN agencies are now shipping assistance through Latakia sea port and other border crossings.
As of 10 May, UN agencies and NGOs had sent 117 cross-border shipments to Syria; 77 from Turkey and 40 from Jordan, including food for 2.4 million people, non-food items and medical supplies for 1.3 million, and water and sanitation supplies for 847,000 people. Photo: OCHA.
Some 220,000 people are estimated to have been killed and over a million have been injured since the conflict erupted in 2011. In five years, 76 humanitarian workers have been killed, 45 of them from the Syrian Arab Red Crescent Society. A total of 32 United Nations staff members have been detained or are missing. "Aid workers are risking their lives despite extremely dangerous and difficult conditions. They help the most vulnerable people in the world. Attacks on aid workers mean that people in need do not receive assistance. Such attacks violate international humanitarian and human rights law," said UN Humanitarian Chief Stephen O’Brien. Photo: EPA-STR/UNICEF.