Bab al-Hawa, which is between Turkey and Syria, is the last border crossing that can be used to bring international humanitarian assistance and support to the people in north-west Syria. This makes it crucial when it comes to providing life-saving assistance for people in the Idlib region, a region which is suffering particularly hard from the violence being deployed by the Assad regime.
Russia obstructs, Syria loses out
For years now, Russia has been supporting the regime in Damascus in the Syria conflict and in so doing is treating also the civilian population in an extremely brutal manner. It is the people in north-west Syria who are bearing the brunt.
Although the lives and survival of millions of people in Syria depend on humanitarian assistance, Russia has in recent years obstructed sensible regulations to get supplies to the people in the Idlib region time and again. During the negotiations in the Security Council, Russia first managed to insist that the number of border crossings be reduced and then to call the extension as a whole into question. For years now, Russia has been pursuing a ruthless policy on the backs of the suffering Syrian people. What is more, it is hardly providing any humanitarian assistance.
In the run-up to the last extension of the resolution in July 2022, Russia used its veto in the Security Council to force a reduction in the resolution’s validity to six months meaning that the mandate would have expired in the depth of winter. That is why the extension now agreed for the transitional period only signals a degree of compromise. The logistics and planning for bringing supplies through Turkey remain unnecessarily difficult.
German aid in the conflict region
Efforts to bring supplies to the more than two and a half million people in north-west Syria, most of whom are women and children, can thus be continued at least until the summer. This means Germany can continue to provide humanitarian assistance for the people in north-west Syria via the United Nations.
Germany’s support is particularly important as the country is the second-largest donor of humanitarian assistance and last year again made more funds available. All in all, the support totalled more than one billion euro over the last year and more than 13 billion euro since the conflict in Syria began.
This funding can be used to alleviate some of the most acute suffering in a country where the number of people dependent on humanitarian assistance is constantly growing and this year reached 15 million. German funding is being used to finance various projects:
- Providing more than 200 million euro in 2022, Germany was the largest donor to the UN World Food Programme in Syria. Germany is funding the programme all across the country and without this programme it would not be possible to provide millions of people in Syria with the deliveries of food they need to survive. Germany’s support means that almost six million people can be provided with food every month, 1.35 million of whom are in north-west Syria. In addition, some 600,000 children are receiving supplementary meals enriched with vitamins and micronutrients.
- Furthermore, Germany is supporting the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) by providing winter relief and is thus financing tents, for example. Recently it has been possible to build more sturdy accommodation using German funding which offers the refugees and internally displaced persons more protection.
- Many non-governmental organisations in Syria are also benefiting from German support, for example, Germany’s Welthungerhilfe (German Agro Action). In addition to distributing bread, the Welthungerhilfe is working together with local partners in north-west Syria to help the people for example to deal with the cholera outbreak by providing hygiene products including soap.
- Many local aid organisations in the Idlib region are receiving support from the Syria Cross-border Humanitarian Fund enabling them for example to provide basic health services. Providing 42.5 million euro last year, Germany was the largest donor to this fund, which is administered by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, and now that the resolution has been extended for six months this work can continue.