UN must reverse its aid cuts in Syria

Peace in Kurdistan is dismayed by the UN decision to cut humanitarian aid to Northern Syria, which exposes 4 million people who are already facing a dire situation, to the prospect of no daily aid, including food and basic medicines. We call for this short-sighted decision to be urgently reversed.

On Friday 10th January 2020, the UN Security Council reviewed the programme for humanitarian aid to Syria and passed a resolution reducing its scope from four to two crossing points, and the duration from 12 to 6 months. The two remaining crossing points are situated at the border with Turkey. This decision is a devastating move for millions of people for whom supplies of aid are absolutely essential at this critical time. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the UN Secretary-General and others have repeatedly stated that there is no alternative to the previous programme which included crossings on the Jordanian border and the Iraqi border, as 4 million people depend on these deliveries.  Daily aid is essential for 2.7 million people in Syria’s north-west and 1.3 million in the north-east who would otherwise be at the mercy entirely of the Syrian regime.

Abdel Kader Mouwahad, director of humanitarian affairs for Kurdish authorities, said “There will be no (UN) aid entering the region except from government-held areas, which will give the regime a greater ability to control aid distribution.”

The Yaroubiya crossing along the Iraqi border was a key entry point for UN-funded medical aid reaching a Kurdish-held region where an estimated 1,650,000 people are reliant on humanitarian assistance, according to aid groups. Its closure will cut the healthcare response in half in an area already ravaged by battles against the Islamic State (IS) group as well as the Turkish invasion of October 2019 that has displaced 200,000 people. The impact of cutting aid can be understood by highlighting some examples – it will disrupt 60 to 70 percent of medical assistance to Al-Hol camp. It will also threaten the delivery of UN-funded medicine and medical equipment to a key hospital in the city of Hassakeh as well as critical medical points established around two towns near the Turkish border hit hard by Turkey’s latest incursion. There are also growing concerns that UN support for the Kurdish Red Crescent may also be slashed.

It is clear the UN-funded aid to northeast Syria must now come either via Turkey or direct from government-held areas with the permission from Damascus, which aims to reintegrate Kurdish-held areas under the state’s control. Peace in Kurdistan believes that it will be impossible for aid to enter from Turkey, which is pursuing barely disguised genocidal policies against the Kurdish people and considers the Kurdish forces in Syria to be terrorists and enemies. Furthermore, we are concerned that the Syrian regime will use aid supply lines as leverage to compel the Kurds to dismantle the semi-autonomy they have achieved during the last decade.

Syrian troops have already deployed in much of the northeast in recent months as part of deal with the Kurds who are seeking protection from Turkey. These are ominous signs of worse to come. The people deserve to be protected.

Peace in Kurdistan calls on the UNSC to reverse the misguided and inhuman reduction of aid to Syria which comes at the worst time when millions of people are stranded and totally dependent on essential humanitarian supplies.

We call on all parties to carry out their obligations under international law and ensure the protection of the most vulnerable. The main parties of influence in Syria must reconvene to broker a negotiated settlement that protects the rights of all the people irrespective of ethnicity or religion.

Statement, 19 January 2020


Peace in Kurdistan

Campaign for a political solution of the Kurdish Question

Email: estella24@tiscali.co.uk


Contacts Estella Schmid 020 7586 5892 & Melanie Gingell – Tel: 020 7272 7890


Patrons: John Austin, Baroness Blower of Starch Green, former GS NUT, Prof Bill Bowring, Julie Christie, Noam Chomsky, Jeremy Corbyn MP,  Prof Mary Davis, Lord Dholakia, Simon Dubbins, UNITE International Director,  Jill Evans MEP, Desmond Fernandes, Lindsey German, Convenor STWC, Melanie Gingell, Christopher Gingell, Rahila Gupta, Nick Hildyard, Dafydd Iwan, Former President Plaid Cymru, James Kelman, Bruce Kent, Jean Lambert, Elfyn Llwyd, Aonghas MacNeacail, Scottish Gaelic poet, Mike Mansfield QC, Doug Nicholls, General Secretary, GFTU, Dr. Jessica Ayesha Northey, Sinn Fein MLA Conor Murphy, Dr Thomas Jeffrey Miley, Kate Osamor MP, Margaret Owen OBE, Ali Gul Ozbek, Former Councillor and Mayor of Haringey; Gareth Peirce, Dr Felix Padel, Maxine Peake, actor, Trevor Rayne, writer, Lord Rea, Joe Ryan, Tony Simpson, Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation, Stephen Smellie, Jonathan Steele, Steve Sweeney, Gianni Tognoni, General Secretary Permanent People’s Tribunal, Dr Tove Skutnabb-Kangas, Dr Tom Wakeford, Dr Derek Wall, Julie Ward MEP, Hywel Williams MP.