Since 2014, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) vote on the renewal of cross-border humanitarian access in Syria has been a key point of advocacy for the entire international humanitarian community. A high level of resources, time, and capacity have all been exercised into developing well-rounded advocacy strategies that clearly display to the international community the necessity of this essential humanitarian lifeline to the 4.1 million vulnerable Syrian civilians in the north and northwest amid the ineffectiveness of humanitarian cross-line aid.
As a result of the continuous restriction of cross-border humanitarian assistance into northwest Syria, the American Relief Coalition for Syria (ARCS) commissioned Guernica 37 Chambers, a boutique international specialist law firm, to explore and present legal arguments meant to resolve the perpetual politicisation of humanitarian aid and in turn provide a stable lifeline that allows for strategic planning, increased capacity, and efficient utilisation of resources.
This analysis is the first of its kind to collate and consolidate some of the most well-accepted legal bases for the continuation of UN-coordinated cross-border humanitarian assistance in Syria in the absence of a United Nations Security Council mandate and apply them to the Syrian conflict as it stands today.
ARCS and its partners are calling for the UN and UN agencies to continue providing all activities pertaining to cross-border humanitarian response, including procurement, funding, and coordination, into NW Syria regardless of the consensus method in line with the humanitarian needs in Syria.
Summary of humanitarian needs in northwest Syria
- 3.1 million people are food insecure in NW Syria, and 1.8 million people are receiving food assistance (in August 2022). 120,000 were receiving nutrition assistance, 250,000 women and girls were provided with dignity kits, and 78,000 children received education services through the UN cross-border mechanism.
- 9 in 10 people now live in poverty in Syria as a result of economic deterioration. 2.8 million people are displaced in Northwest Syria with 1.84 million of those living in camps and informal settlements, receiving services and assistance with support of the cross-border mechanism. Nearly 70% of the population is considered to be food insecure in NW Syria.
- 63 hospitals, 170 fixed primary health centers, 42 specialised care centres and 45 mobile clinics serve more than 4 million people in northwest Syria. And many of these facilities are already facing huge funding gaps.
- Between 25 August and 29 October, 2022, 30,219 suspected Cholera cases have been reported, including 85 attributed deaths to date at a case fatality rate of 0.3%, and have been reported from all 14 governorates in Syria.
- Humanitarian actors anticipate that humanitarian conditions will continue to worsen over the coming months. The war in Ukraine has put food supplies to Turkey and Northwest Syria at risk and will likely lead to increasing prices at a period of already deteriorating conditions. WFP have estimated that the price of food has already increased 800% since 2020.
The Legal Answer
If you have any questions regarding the legal elements of cross-border humanitarian assistance into Syria, we encourage you to visit the dedicated website for the legal initiative Cross Border Aid into Syria is Legal: www.crossborderislegal.org