Joachim Rücker, the Special Representative of the Federal Government for the Middle East Stability Partnership, made a spontaneous trip to the Turkish-Syrian border area. He was able to see for himself the humanitarian situation following the most recent escalation of violence in the Aleppo region and announced additional emergency aid.
Unbearable suffering in Syria
Rücker was appointed Special Representative just a few days ago. The trip which was organised at short notice was essential given the dramatic humanitarian situation at the Turkish-Syrian border. The escalating combat in and around Aleppo had forced tens of thousands of people to flee, to make matters worse, at a time when the region is experiencing especially wintry conditions. Rücker expressed his thoughts during his trip: “Visiting the Öncüpinar refugee camp and a field hospital run by Malteser International in Kilis made plain how unbearable the suffering is in Syria and how essential further support on the part of the international community.”
Sign of hope from Munich
There were nevertheless also signs of hope as the day before (11 February) the foreign ministers of the Syria contact group had met in Munich. They committed to the Vienna principles for a political solution to the conflict and agreed concrete steps to improve humanitarian access and to achieve a nationwide cessation of hostilities. His visit was very much dominated by this Munich commitment, as Rücker reported: “The cautious hope for a possible cessation of hostilities and unhampered humanitarian access to the besieged areas was the constant theme of my talks.”
Respect and gratitude towards the volunteers
The Special Representative paid clear tribute to Turkey's readiness to help: “We greatly respect the enormous contribution made by Turkey in providing the people with supplies and accommodation and integrating them and we thank the country for its efforts in tackling the current refugee flow from the Aleppo region.” Rücker spoke inter alia with representatives of aid organisations such as the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the Syria Recovery Trust Fund, Malteser International and German Agro Action. He was “impressed by the almost super-human work of volunteers and non-governmental organisations on both sides of the border”.
Quick and substantial aid
To bring quick and substantial aid to those suffering, the Special Representative announced several emergency measures:
Thus, the German Government is providing additional assistance for new projects run by German Agro Action and Malteser International also given the particularly harsh winter – tents, blankets, preparing the ground in refugee camps. And we plan to bring a mobile clinic to the region around Aleppo without delay also because the ongoing fighting mean the last remaining access routes are threatened.
The Syria Recovery Trust Fund co-initiated by Germany is also to mobilise rapid emergency aid to the tune of 1.6 million euros, providing above all medical equipment. This means the suffering of the Syrian population can be alleviated somewhat while efforts to find a political solution continue.