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Important Notice: As of 1 November 2023, Ms. Heba Hagrass (Egypt) has been appointed by the UN Human Rights Council as the current Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities.

Syria: UN experts urge Security Council to prioritise humanitarian support

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Joint statement by Ms. Tlaleng MofokengSpecial Rapporteur on the right to healthMs. Reem AlsalemSpecial Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequencesMs. Claudia MahlerIndependent Expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older personsMr. Fernand de VarennesSpecial Rapporteur on minority issuesMr. Livingstone Sewanyana, Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international orderMr. Saad AlfarargiSpecial Rapporteur on the right to developmentMs. Cecilia Jimenez-DamarySpecial Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced personsMs. Melissa Upreti (Chair), Ms. Dorothy Estrada-Tanck (Vice-Chair), Ms. Elizabeth BroderickMs. Ivana Radačić and Ms. Merkerem Geset TechaneWorking Group on discrimination against women and girlsMs. Alexandra XanthakiSpecial Rapporteur in the field of cultural rightsMr. Gerard QuinnSpecial Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities; Mr. Obiora C. OkaforIndependent Expert on human rights and international solidarity; and Mr. Michael FakhriSpecial Rapporteur on the right to food.

GENEVA (8 July 2022) – In view of the resolution on the situation in Syria to be adopted by United Nations Security Council members, a group of UN experts have called on all relevant stakeholders to extend resolution 2585 (2021) on cross-border humanitarian assistance to ensure that the population receives adequate and appropriate humanitarian aid. They issue the following statement:

“While Syria continues to experience a devastating humanitarian and human rights crisis, international institutions, including the United Nations, have struggled to respond to the scope of humanitarian needs, while navigating the unique political and social context of the Syrian crisis that has necessitated innovative modalities and mechanisms for both aid delivery and the monitoring of human rights violations.

Despite the recent relative decrease in hostilities, people’s lives are still at risk and humanitarian needs in the country have only increased, in particular for vulnerable and marginalised populations of all ages, including women, girls and boys, minorities, internally displaced persons, older persons and people with disabilities, among others, who continue to be severely impacted by the situation. The population is still in need of provision of sufficient humanitarian aid, particularly in relation to health-related support. This must include a full range of sexual and reproductive health services and mental health support, which are usually not adequately prioritized in crisis settings, resulting in further harm to women and adolescent girls.

The severity of the crisis in Syria has caused the majority of its population to fall below the poverty line and resulted in the displacement of over 13 million people. Massive numbers of conflict-related injuries, outbreaks of diseases that were once all but eradicated, as well as declining markers of maternal and child health have been reported. This is further aggravated as medical and educational infrastructure have been decimated due to the conflict. Furthermore, reportedly, 3-4 million people are at risk of starvation and food insecurity if cross-border humanitarian deliveries are not authorized.

The need for the principled, needs-based provision of humanitarian services is immense and growing in the country, despite the best efforts of different stakeholders. The needs of the population are important, particularly in relation to essential services, such as health services, including sexual and reproductive health services, food, housing and education, among others.

A discontinuation of the humanitarian assistance through all possible cross-borders would undermine the rights of the population who rely on support from the international community. Cross-border aid mechanisms have been developed as a tool to ensure that the humanitarian response prioritises the needs and rights of the population. The adoption of this resolution should ensure that these principles are upheld.

Humanitarian aid must not be used as a weapon of war, and all relevant stakeholders must prioritise the needs for humanitarian aid of the population in the country. The lives, health, and dignity of an important part of the population depends on the negotiation of the future resolution.”