UN: Syria faces ‘acute violence’ and worst economic crisis


Syria is facing “acute violence”, its worst economic crisis since the war began in 2011, and a rapidly spreading cholera outbreak with more than 24,000 suspected cases. reported across the country and at least 80 deaths, United Nations officials said on Tuesday.

UN Special Envoy Geir Pedersen told the UN Security Council that conflict remained “very active” across the country despite a “strategic deadlock” that had prevented efforts to launch a political process between the government and the rebels. Opposition.

He pointed to internal fighting between armed opposition groups in Afrin in the northern province of Aleppo in recent weeks, pro-government airstrikes in the northwest, violence in the northeast, incidents security incidents in the southwest, Israeli air strikes on airports in Damascus and Aleppo, and the discovery in the northeast of one of the Islamic State’s largest arsenals since the so-called Its caliphate collapsed in 2017.

In recent weeks, Pedersen said, the Syrian pound has “lost a large amount of its value, as a result of which food and fuel prices surged to record prices even higher.” And he warned the economic crisis “will only get worst for the vast majority” as winter approaches and more urgent funding is needed.

Reena Ghelani, director of operations for the UN humanitarian office, told the council that “communities in Syria are caught in the middle of a growing security, public health and economic crisis” that has left many “struggling to survive.”

She said the cholera outbreak was made worse by Syria’s severe water shortages, plus insufficient and poorly distributed rainfall in many places, severe drought-like conditions, river levels Low euphrates and damaged water infrastructure.

“The crisis is likely to get worse: The outlook for now through December shows the possibility of an increase in below-normal rainfall and above-normal temperatures,” Ghelani said. “If this materializes, it will exacerbate an already serious water crisis.”

She said the three-month cholera outbreak response plan, coordinated by the UN, needs $34.4 million to support 5 million people in need of water, sanitation and hygiene, and 162,000 with other measures. health services. The UN will provide about $10 million but “more is needed”, she said.

Water scarcity has also affected crops with the lowest wheat production since the war began as well as farmers’ livelihoods are at stake, Ghelani said.

In addition, the rate of food insecurity “is getting out of control”, the rate of malnutrition is increasing, and “Syrians today can only buy 15% of the food they could buy a few days ago.” 3 years,” she said.

As winter approaches in a few weeks, Ghelani said, the number of people across the country needing assistance to survive the cold has increased by 30% from last year, including about 2 million in the northwest, mainly women and children live in camps with limited or no numbers. access to heating, electricity, water or wastewater treatment.

Humanitarian organizations have launched freezing efforts, but the program is “underfunded”, Grelani said, pointing to the area of ​​providing shelter, blankets, heating, fuel, winter clothing and Other non-food items are only 10% funded.

A United Nations Roadmap for Peace in Syria in 2012 adopted by representatives of the United Nations, the Arab League, the European Union, Turkey and all five permanent members of the Security Council. called for a new constitution to be drafted and ended with UN-supervised elections with all Syrians, including members of the diaspora, eligible to participate.

At a peace conference in Syria hosted by Russia in January 2018, an agreement was reached to form a 150-member committee to draft a new constitution. It was not until September 2019 that the commission was formed, and after eight rounds of negotiations, so far, little progress has been made.

UN special envoy Pedersen said he continues to “work to remove obstacles to reconvening the constitutional committee” and is pushing key parties to “engage in step-by-step confidence-building measures”. to help advance the” roadmap.

Russia’s military support for Syria has changed the trajectory of the Syrian conflict. The EU imposed sanctions on Russia after it annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and stepped up sanctions following President Vladimir Putin’s February 24 invasion of Ukraine.

Russia’s Deputy UN Ambassador Dmitry Polyansky accused the West of supporting “terrorists” from al-Qaida with links to Hayat Tahrir al-Sham who are trying to expand their area of ​​control beyond the northwest. Idlib and accused the US of encouraging “Kurdish separatism”.

Tensions in northern Syria between US-backed Kurdish fighters from the Syrian Democratic Forces and Turkish-backed opposition fighters.

U.S. Deputy Ambassador Robert Wood responded that “the United States is in Syria for the sole purpose of activating the ongoing campaign against ISIS,” an acronym for the Islamic State extremist group.

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