By Janet Ekstract
UNITED NATIONS – On Friday, in a joint press release, senior United Nations officials stated: “We are deeply shaken and distraught by the brutality and utter disregard for civilian lives we are witnessing in Eastern Ghouta and other parts of Syria today.” All three officials called for urgent support to Syrian refugees and their communities to prevent further bloodshed in the region of Eastern Ghouta.
The officials, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, UN Development Program Administrator, Achim Steiner and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Mark Lowcock called for an immediate ceasefire in a statement they released to the press yesterday.
“We are urging an immediate ceasefire, protection of civilians and civilian infrastructure and unfettered humanitarian access to Eastern Ghouta, swift evacuation of sick and injured people and safe passage for civilians wishing to leave,” the officials urged.
In addition, an appeal for $194 million to help displaced Syrians and their host communities inside and outside the conflict zone was also launched yesterday by the International Organization for Migration (IOM)
The UN officials added that it is positively crucial to maintain and reinforce international support for neighboring countries and communities hosting a total of 5.5 million Syrian refugees in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt. They commented: “They continue to provide a profound service to humanity at a time when inside Syria, inhumanity seems to be prevailing.”
Turkey is currently hosting at least 3.5 million Syrian refugees and the Turkish government has already granted a significant amount of work permits and business permits to Syrians throughout the country, especially within Istanbul.
UN statistics indicate that in the last seven years, Syria has seen half of its populace displaced including 6.1 million within its borders and 5.5 million outside its borders – living as refugees.
According to a recent UN press release, most Syrian refugee families and many within their own host communities fall below the poverty line and struggle to meet basic needs.
In December 2017, UN agencies and approximately 270 non-governmental organizations released the 2018 Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan seeking $4.4 billion to support Syrian refugees and host communities in bordering nations.
The Plan’s purpose is to provide protection for the refugee populace while providing health, education, food security, jobs as well as water and sanitation services to vulnerable groups.
Up for consideration by the UN Security Council is a resolution that would establish a 30-day ceasefire across Syria
Meanwhile, the humanitarian situation in Syria has rapidly deteriorated to the breaking point with inhumane and dire conditions the norm not the exception. More than 13 million are still in need of humanitarian assistance inside the country while nearly 3 million people remain in hard-to-reach or besieged areas.
Since the crisis began, access to primary healthcare was severely lacking inside Syria with agricultural production slashed by 50 percent while economic growth within host countries has been severely affected. With high unemployment rates, especially among young people, and limited resource availability, it is challenging for governments and municipalities to provide basic services.
Access to primary health care has been drastically reduced inside Syria, while agricultural production has been cut in half compared to 2011 levels.
In 2017, IOM was responsible for and organized the transport of over 37,000 refugees from Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, and Egypt to 23 nations including Canada, Germany, the UK, France, Sweden, Norway, the U.S. and the Netherlands.
Turkish lawmakers called on the world to share the burden of refugees
Turkish lawmakers who are from the biggest refugee-hosting country in the world, called on the world to share the burden of refugees during the meeting at UN headquarters, in New York.
Ruling Justice and Development (AK Party) deputies Ebubekir Gizligider, Lutfiye Ilksen Ceritoglu Kurt, Erdogan Ozegen and main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Aytug Atici attended intergovernmental negotiations on the Global Compact on Migration at the UN.