As the 10th anniversary of Syria’s conflict approaches, suffering is perhaps at an all-time high, the Red Cross said Thursday, warning against allowing it to become a forgotten crisis.
More than 387,000 people have been killed and millions displaced since the conflict erupted with the brutal repression of anti-government protests that first erupted on March 15, 2011.
As Syria approaches the 10 year anniversary of its civil war, we want to thank our dedicated partners on the ground saving lives at great risk to their own. Read the latest on how @USAID and partners continue to deliver aid to Syrians in need➡️ https://t.co/oeVMz6fYvm pic.twitter.com/noNXtbQ9RE— USAID's Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (@USAIDSavesLives) March 3, 2021
No signs of abating
The suffering is showing no signs of abating, Peter Maurer, who heads the International Committee of the Red Cross, told a virtual media briefing.
“Syria is in a deadly spiral of warfare, economic downturn, pandemic and sanctions,” he said, pointing out that nearly three-quarters of Syrians now need humanitarian assistance to survive — an increase of 20% over the past year.
“My fear is that the international community writes off Syria as an intractable political problem and moves on to the next crisis, leaving few solutions for the millions of lives in ruin,” he said.
The increasingly complex conflict, involving a long line of international players including Russia, Iran, Turkey and the United States, has left cities and villages in ruins, shattered the economy and displaced more than 11 million people internally and abroad.
“For a decade now, people in Syria have been living in agony,” Khaled Hbouti, head of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, told the briefing.
“Continuing hostilities, a downward economic spiral, a refugee crisis… and the Covid-19 pandemic have conspired to push Syrian people to unacceptable extremes,” he warned.
Francesco Rocca, head of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, agreed that the pandemic had deepened the crisis further.
But, he stressed, “for most Syrians, worrying about the virus is a luxury they cannot afford.
“They cannot afford to protect themselves. They cannot isolate themselves at home or else no food would be on the table,” he said, adding that if they did get sick, the country’s ravaged health system left little access to treatment.
As the 10 year anniversary of the Syrian war approaches, a moving series of refections... 'This is the price we had to pay for freedom'https://t.co/R7v0bazec3— Diana Darke (@dianadarke) March 3, 2021
Endless rounds of UN-backed peace talks have failed to stem the bloodshed in Syria.
Maurer said civilians were “paying the price of the lack of political breakthrough.”
“The international community can’t turn away from Syria,” he said, insisting “its people need a political solution.”
“People should not live in tents relying on water trucks, on food handouts for months, let alone years, let alone a decade.”
Maurer insisted the international community needed to do more to ensure humanitarian access, and also provide the political backing needed to push for information on missing people and smooth the way for prisoner exchanges.
“The lack of information on missing people is one of the very big obstacles to reconciliation in the Syrian society and to moving forward with more ambitious peace negotiations,” he said.
This article has been adapted from its original source.
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