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North East Syria: “Only a Political Solution can Improve the Humanitarian Situation”

If you missed the event you can watch here.

On 18 June, Fight for Humanity organized the second edition of its webinar series “First-hand views on human rights and peace” on the humanitarian situation in North East Syria.

Humanitarians professionals working in the area as well as a representative from the Self-Administration in North East Syria expressed their views on the economic crisis, education, humanitarian access, healthcare, and the COVID-19 situation. 120 participants attended the event and asked their questions to the panelists.

Access issues, COVID-19, economic crisis: a worsening humanitarian situation

“The prevalence of persons with disabilities in North East Syria is the highest in Syria with 34% of people having a disability. Households with a person with disability are more likely to be in debt; they may have to choose between buying food or essential medical supplies for example. In general, there is high dependence on humanitarian aid in the region” commented one of the speakers.

This need for humanitarian aid is likely to increase with the COVID-19 crisis. “When we see the number of COVID-19 cases in neighbouring Iraq, we can assume that the spread in North East Syria is largely underreported. The situation is critical as the health system doesn’t have enough beds, there is a lack of medical personal and difficulties to make the curfew respected” added another humanitarian representative.

In addition to that, access from Northern Iraq to this part of Syria has recently been restricted: “the Yarubia border was mainly use for medical supplies by UN agencies and its partners. Its closing, coupled with the impact of COVID-19, means the situation there is likely to be catastrophic. 70% of the healthcare facilities are no longer reached” explained Sarah Kiyyali, Researcher at Human Rights Watch.

All participants agreed that only advocacy efforts at the international level could facilitate the reopening of this crossing point.

“Our voice is not heard at the international level”

Civil society actos as well local humanitarian actors operating in the region often feel neglected by the international community. To make their perspectives and needs more visible, 124 local NGOs sent a letter to the IV Brussels conference on the future of Syria to express their concerns about the humanitarian situation in North East Syria. “It’s a way to make our voice heard at the international level” explained Majed Youssef Dawi, Director of the Aso Strategic Study Center, one of the signatory organizations.

They notably urged the international communities to put more efforts to support the thousands of displaced people living in camps in the area, to support education efforts, to work to protect women, and to increase support to health facilities in their fight against COVID-19.”

To address these humanitarian issues, there is a need for more stability as Bedran Bedran Chiya Kurd, Co-Vice Executive Director of the Self-Administration in North East Syria stressed it: “If North East Syria is included in the peace process, it will be possible to have stability. We can play a positive role for a final solution to the too bloody Syrian crisis.” He also called on the international community “for a sustainable solution to the situation of ISIS families in the camps and ISIS members in our prisons. It is very important that we work with international support to improve their humanitarian conditions and to develop deradicalization and reintegration programmes”

Only a political solution at the international level involving the local authorities as well as local civil society organizations can lead to an improvement of the current humanitarian situation in the area, concluded Mehmet Balci, Fight for Humanity’s Co-Director.


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